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Time Warner Cable Customers Lose CBS, NBC Stations in Four Cities

Cable op’s retrans extension with Journal Broadcast Group expires, resulting in blackout of four locals in Wisconsin, Nebraska and Palm Springs

Time Warner Cable postponed the drop-dead date in its contract fight with CBS to Monday, but a separate dispute with Journal Broadcast Group resulted in a blackout of CBS and NBC stations in four markets around midnight local time Thursday.

TW Cable said more than 600,000 of customers are affected. Its retransmission-consent deal with Journal Broadcast had been set to expire June 30, but the companies extended pact through July 24 for four stations: WTMJ (NBC) in Milwaukee; WGBA (NBC) in Green Bay, Wisc.; KMTV (CBS) in Omaha, Neb.; and KMIR (NBC) in Palm Springs, Calif.

The MSO did not provide an estimate on when it expected to reach a deal with Milwaukee-based Journal Broadcast. The cable company has claimed the broadcaster is seeking a 200% fee hike, while the Journal Broadcast characterizes the increase as just pennies per day per subscriber.

“At Time Warner Cable, we continue to take a stand against such unreasonable fee increases because we don’t think it’s fair for customers to pay such a huge increase for programming that is delivered for free via an antenna, and online,” the cable company said in a notice posted at TWCConversations.com.

Journal Broadcast Group said in a statement that it is “deeply disappointed to announce that Time Warner Cable has put aside the needs of our local viewers and taken our stations off their systems serving the Milwaukee, Green Bay/Appleton, Omaha and Palm Springs DMAs… We stand ready to return to the bargaining table to resolve our differences and resume serving the Time Warner Cable customers in our markets.”

Time Warner Cable’s higher-profile clash with CBS covers 13 owned-and-operated stations, including WCBS in Gotham, KCBS in LA and KTVT in Dallas. Also covered in that pact are carriage of CBS cablers including Showtime and Smithsonian Channel.

TW Cable on July 10 dropped two low-power Journal Broadcast stations affiliated with MyNetwork TV, WACY in Green Bay and KPSE in Palm Springs. The NBC and CBS stations stayed on Time Warner Cable under an FCC rule that forbids commercial stations to be removed during the sweeps ratings period.

According to Journal Broadcast, the station group has successfully negotiated more than 140 retrans contracts with other distributors without any interruption in service.

As has been the case in other broadcast blackouts, Time Warner Cable said affected customers could continue to access NBC shows on video-on-demand within 24 hours of original broadcast, and it noted that CBS primetime programming is available free at CBS.com  — and also provided instructions on how to set up an over-the-air antenna.

In addition, the operator pointed out that many primetime programs are via online streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon.com, Hulu.com or may be purchased at Apple’s  iTunes Store.

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