If you’re in Waterville Valley (or a community with Time Warner Cable service), then you will have noticed some missing channels from the Hearst Television group. Here in Waterville Valley and other local communities, cable subscribers are in an uproar because WMUR channel 9 has been blacked out. That means no New Hampshire news or weather. Like everyone else with TWC, I miss the local news; Plattsburg, NY and Burlington, VT news just doesn’t cut it for me.
I received an email this morning from Time Warner Cable with their side of the story:
Hearst TV local blackouts
On July 9, 2012 Hearst Television chose to black out their signals from Time Warner Cable customers rather than continue negotiations, and despite their CEO saying just two weeks earlier that broadcaster blackouts are unfair to consumers.
Time Warner Cable has reached hundreds of agreements with other broadcasters without broadcaster blackouts, but Hearst’s demand for a nearly 300% increase is way out of line. That kind of outrageous increase is unfair to our customers and unsustainable for our business.
We believe broadcaster blackouts are wrong. Despite Hearst’s blackout, we stand ready to continue negotiations and are hopeful that the channel will be returned to the lineup shortly.
The Hearst Television stations included in this blackout include:
Portland, ME WMTV-ABC
Hartford, VT WNNE-ABC
Plattsburgh, NY WPTZ-NBC
Plattsburgh, NY WPTZ-D2 – This TV
Winston-Salem, NC WXII-NBC
Kansas City KCWE-CW
Kansas City KMBC-ABC
Lincoln, NE KETV-ABC
Manchester, NH WMUR-ABC
Louisville, KY WLKY-CBS
Finding Your Favorite Programs
Despite a Hearst-imposed blackout, you’ll still be able to see many of your favorite shows:
• You can always receive Hearst’s stations free over the air with an antenna and digital TV tuner.
• National ABC, CBS, and MyTV programming can be found for free on www.abc.com, www.cbs.com and www.mytv.com, respectively, and some programming can be found for a fee at www.hulu.com.
• National NBC primetime programming continues to be available via Primetime on Demand, even if your local NBC Hearst TV station is blacked out. Simply find NBC Primetime on Demand on your channel lineup – it’s that simple.
• In a handful of markets, we’re happy to be able to make arrangements to bring the national network programming from another city, so our customers can still view their favorite network programming despite Hearst’s blackouts:
In place of Hearst Television’s
blacked-out station … We’ve arranged to bring you national network programming on:
WLKY in Louisville WROC (CBS from Rochester, NY)
WLWT in Cincinnati WLWT (NBC from Terre Haute, IN)
WNNE in Moultonborough WBRE (NBC from Wilkes Barre, PA)
WPTZ in Plattsburgh WBRE (NBC from Wilkes Barre, PA)
WXII in Greensboro/High Point/
Winston-Salem WBRE (NBC from Wilkes Barre, PA)
You can find out more information about why these kinds of blackouts happen, and what Time Warner Cable is doing to prevent them in the future at www.TWCConversations.com.
Q: Why is this happening again? It seems like this happens all the time.
A: Unfortunately, these kinds of disputes have become more common over the past few years. Cable TV prices are rising and one cause is higher fees being demanded by greedy broadcasters – as their advertising dollars decline, they want cable customers to make up the difference. And if we don’t agree to their outrageous demands, they take away their programming. We don’t think it’s fair for TV stations to hold programming hostage for our customers, and we are working hard to keep the programming on our lineup while also trying to hold down the cost of TV.
Q: Why shouldn’t I just go ahead and switch to DirecTV/Dish/FIOS/AT&T now?
A: Switching makes no sense; most of these contract blackouts are over within a matter of days. But switching isn’t really the answer — any provider you switch to may eventually face the same kind of blackout threats. In fact, the American Television Alliance reports that broadcasters have blacked out signals in nearly 100 different cities since January 2011, with customers of DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FIOS and other major cable companies suffering actual or threatened blackouts. We think blackouts are unfair to viewers, which is why we continue to negotiate hard on your behalf to try to keep prices down.
Q: Will you be crediting me for the channel(s) that go dark?
A: Remember that customers do not pay for channels on an individual basis — they pay for a package of channels plus the technology and service required to deliver those channels. So we do not typically offer a credit for channels that have been blacked out.
Q: It’s great that you can bring me national network programming from another city, but why couldn’t you bring from a city that’s closer? Or why couldn’t you bring it to my city, too?
A: Certain rules limit our ability to import TV signals from other cities. We have done so where those rules currently permit it.
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I don’t have any advice for you other than to call both WMUR and TWC and complain and suggest they try and work out their differences and come to a mutually acceptable agreement.