Thursday, December 12, 2013
By PAUL S. SCHONEWOLF
The July 15 editorial about Hearst Television’s blackout of television programming for Time Warner Cable customers (“Fight over Channel 8’s fees leaves cable customers in the dark”) contained some fundamental factual errors. On behalf of Time Warner Cable’s 1,000 employees in Maine, I appreciate this opportunity to set the record straight.
Hearst’s blackout of our customers is over the fees Time Warner Cable will pay Hearst for the rights to carry its stations – including WMTW – on our channel lineups nationally, not the other way around, as asserted in the editorial. In the past, Time Warner has agreed with Hearst to carry its stations on our cable systems. But this year Hearst is demanding rate increases that are way out of line – 300 percent for the same programming it continues to deliver for free over the air. We think that’s unfair to our customers.
Unfortunately, these kinds of disputes have become more common. One cause of higher cable TV prices is higher fees being demanded by broadcasters like Hearst. As their advertising dollars decline, they want cable customers to make up the difference. If we don’t agree to their demands, they take away their programming, like Hearst did on July 9 when it blacked out its signals from our customers in Maine and across the United States.
We know our customers are tired of these public contract disputes, and so are we. We think it’s wrong for TV stations to hold programming hostage for our customers. Despite Hearst’s blackout of our customers, we will continue working hard to return WMTW and the other Hearst stations to our lineup while also trying to hold down the cost of TV programming.
– Paul S. Schonewolf is area vice president for operations with Time Warner Cable.