LIN TV threatens to pull ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox stations from Time Warner Cable

TWC says LIN demanding 50% hike in retrans fees; contract expires May 31
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LIN TV began warning Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) subscribers in 14 markets Wednesday that they will lose the feeds for stations carrying ABC, NBC, Fox and NBC on May 31 unless the MSO agrees to cough up increased retransmission-consent fees.

The dispute could impact cable subscribers in several of Time Warner Cable's key systems including Austin, Texas, Buffalo, N.Y., and systems in Ohio, Alabama, Wisconsin, Virginia, Hawaii and Massachusetts.

LIN TV is known to play hardball with distributors. It pulled stations from Time Warner Cable for nearly one month in 2008 during a similar retransmission-consent dispute. In 2011, the company blacked out Mediacom subscribers for six weeks until the MSO agreed to pay increased fees.

Time Warner Cable spokesman Jon Gary Herrera said LIN TV is demanding that the MSO pay a 50 percent increase in retransmission-consent fees, and he said the broadcaster also hit TWC with a "colossal increase" in fees in 2011. "Talks are ongoing with LIN," Herrera said.

LIN TV said in a statement posted on the website of Buffalo CBS affiliate WIVB-TV that its contract with TWC expires at 5 p.m. ET on May 31. "Without a fair agreement, we will not be able to provide the premiere news, sports, entertainment, weather, traffic updates, political coverage and other local and national programming that is most important to you," LIN TV said in the statement. TWC could also lose LIN stations that are affiliates of The CW and MyNetworkTV.

Mediacom complained in 2011 that LIN TV wanted to hike retrans fees by more than 100 percent. A LIN TV attorney said in an FCC filing in October 2011 that the broadcaster was bringing its fees in line with market levels. "Fee increases will be smaller once the market has fully adjusted," John Hane, an attorney at law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, wrote in the FCC filing.

For more:
The Buffalo News has this story

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