July 11, 2012

No resolution in sight as Time Warner drops WMTW in fee dispute

The blackout, a growing trend, forces viewers to find ABC shows elsewhere.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

But exactly how much ABC programming will be provided, and what channel it will be on, had not been determined.

If Time Warner does provide ABC programming to subscribers, viewers will miss out only on WMTW's news and syndicated programming during the blackout. Most of WMTW's news shows have regularly been rated third in the Portland market, usually after WCSH and WGME.

Viewers can still get WMTW by using an antenna or switching to a satellite provider. And they can get ABC programming online at ABC.com.

Time Warner negotiates transmission fees with networks and station owners every year. And almost every year, Mainers see messages on TV warning that a channel could be dropped from the cable lineup if an agreement isn't reached soon.

The American Television Alliance, whose members include consumer groups and cable and satellite companies, has compiled a list of more than 40 contract disputes in the last two years that have caused blackouts of programming in more than 100 cities. Some have lasted a day; others have lasted several months.

One high-profile case occurred in 2010, when a dispute between Cablevision and Scripps, owner of the Food Network and HGTV, led those networks to be blacked out on Cablevision for three weeks.

SNLKagan estimated that the Food Network was getting 8 cents, on average, for each subscriber before the blackout, at a time when ESPN was getting more than $4 per subscriber.

It's unclear whether the Federal Communications Commission would get involved in settling the Hearst-Time Warner dispute if it went on for a long time.

A section about broadcaster-cable system agreements on the FCC website, reads, in part: "Generally, the FCC is not authorized to participate in discussions between television stations and cable systems regarding retransmission consent agreements."


Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: rrouthier@pressherald.com


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)