Updated 12/20/2010 10:18 PM
Negotiations stall in Time Warner/WKTV talks
It's been five days since WKTV, Utica's NBC affiliate, pulled its signal from Time Warner Cable in a dispute over fees paid by the cable company for the station's programming. Our Sarah Blazonis has the latest on negotiations and a debate over replacement programming.
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UTICA, N.Y. -- Negotiations have stalled and both Time Warner Cable and WKTV management say there's no telling when the local station will again be available to Time Warner customers in much of the Utica TV market. The sticking point: Determining the fair market value of WKTV's content.
"Broadcasters are increasingly holding companies hostage for programming costs, which are the biggest piece of customers' bills," said Stephanie Salanger from Time Warner Cable.
WKTV management says its cable blackout shouldn't come as a surprise since negotiations have been going on for about five years. They say what was surprising was that Time Warner Cable replaced their signal with one from WBRE, the NBC affiliate in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
"The service that comes from Pennsylvania still isn't relevant when you even compare it to Binghamton or to Watertown or to Albany or Syracuse," said Vic Vetters, Vice President of Smith Broadcasting, the company that owns WKTV.
Nexstar Broadcasting, the company that owns WBRE, sent a cease and desist order to Time Warner last week, saying it had no right to air its programming in Utica.
The cable provider says that's not the case.
"Time Warner Cable is within its contractual right to carry that replacement programming from WBRE," said Salanger.
Salanger says WBRE is on the cable system in Utica to supply customers there with NBC network programming.
Meanwhile, WKTV management says viewers continue to express confusion over the situation.
"I get a sense just talking to everybody, they want to know when is it going to be done? When are the parties going to strike a deal? So I sense an anxiety among people in the community," said Vetters.
Both sides say they're not sure when an agreement will be reached. Until then, WKTV is available online and over the air.
Three other stations in The Central/Northern New York region, owned by WKTV's parent company, are also off of Time Warner Cable as part of the same dispute. Time Warner Cable is the parent company of YNN.