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TWC may face contentious negotiations over new SportsNet LA network

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Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) may have difficulty persuading other Pay-TV providers to carry its new regional sports channel in Los Angeles. Sources told the New York Post that several distributors are planning to decline the Dodgers network, named SportsNet LA, because of Time Warner's pricey fees. According to sources, which were not identified by the Post but said to be close to the negotiations, TWC is expected to charge distributors $5 per month per subscriber for the network. That fee would then increase to $8 per sub per month over five years.

The No. 2 cable operator was able to secure distribution for SportsNet and Deportes channels last year by using some tough negotiating tactics. The $5 per month per subscriber fee that Time Warner is asking is high for a regional sports network. By comparison, the Post reports that Madison Square Garden in New York, which carries the Knicks and the Rangers, charges roughly $5 for two channels.  

TWC wants to offer the SportsNet LA on expanded basic cable and not as a separate sports tier, sources said. However, if its negotiations fall short, the company may consider other options, such as rolling the Dodgers rights into Time Warner Cable's existing SportsNet channel rather than launching a standalone channel for LA.

Time Warner reportedly paid $8 billion over 25 years for rights to Dodgers games. As part of the deal, TWC agreed to carry the Dodgers channel and get other Pay-TV distributors to also carry the network. 

TWC is also making tweaks to its regional news networks. Earlier this month the company said it was changing the network of its 16 regional news networks to Time Warner Cable News, except for its network in New York City, which will be called Time Warner Cable News NY1.  

 For more:
- see this New York Post article

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