TWC puts ball back in MSG’s court

Cabler sticks to 6.5% fees hike offer

As the heated battle over New York sports teams careens toward a Dec. 31 deadline, Time Warner Cable late Sunday fired back at MSG, promising not to yank its channels off the air through the NHL and NBA seasons. “That ball in MSG’s court,” said Mike Angus, TWC’s senior VP for content acquisitions.

In a statement, he said the cabler is sticking to its original offer to continue carrying channels MSG/MSG+ through the end of the 2011-2012 NBA and NHL seasons for a 6.5% increase in fees. MSG, he reiterated, wants a 53% hike plus carriage of music channel Fuse “at a cost of millions of dollars.”

He’s responding to a statement Friday by Michael Blair, the president of MSG Media, who said, “Unfortunately, Time Warner Cable is not interested in reaching a fair agreement, and, in fact, is not interested in conducting productive negotiations on behalf of its customers.” Blair encouraged TWC subs to switch providers “before Time Warner Cable pulls MSG’s networks off its systems.”

MSG has said that the acquisition by the Knicks of Carmelo Anthony, a rise in Knicks ratings and Time Warner Cable’s deal with the Lakers inked early this year had changed the sports rights landscape.