MSG, Time Warner Cable agree to carriage deal

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Nearly seven weeks after MSG pulled its regional sports network from Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) after the MSO refused its demands for increased license fees, the companies have reached a carriage deal, MSO spokesman Alex Dudley confirmed on Friday. 

"Time Warner Cable has reached a verbal agreement for carriage of MSG, MSG+ and Fuse, effective immediately. MSG will return to Time Warner Cable's lineup in time for tonight's Knicks, Sabres and Devils games," the company said in a prepared statement. "Time Warner Cable expressed appreciation for the concern and encouragement provided by Governor Andrew Cuomo, as well as New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and NBA Commissioner David Stern," the company added. 

News of the deal came soon after New York politicians pressured the companies to settle. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn had also warned Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt and Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) CEO Jim Dolan that she would grill them at a public hearing on the dispute unless they came to terms.

Public disputes between cable MSOs and programmers have increased in recent years. What was unusual about the MSG-Time Warner Cable fight was that it pitted two fellow cable MSOs that have had strong ties for many years. While MSG is no longer a subsidiary of Cablevision--it was spun off in 2009--Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan and his family control MSG.

Cablevision chairman and founder Chuck Dolan is a cable pioneer who operated the first cable system in Manhattan in the 1960s, which is now home to Time Warner Cable's most valuable system. Chuck Dolan sold has stake in Sterling Cable to Time Inc., before building Cablevision systems on Long Island in the 1970s.

Time Warner Cable subscribers impacted most by the carriage dispute included New York Knicks fans eager to see star point guard Jeremy Lin, and subscribers in Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y., who are big fans of the Buffalo Sabres hockey franchise. MSG recently teamed up with NBC affiliates in Buffalo and Rochester to air a Sabres game on free TV, using the broadcast to encourage viewers to subscribe to other pay TV providers and pressure Time Warner Cable to agree to a deal.

For more:
- the New York Times has this story

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