A slew of Hearst-owned stations were restored in Time Warner Cable homes late Thursday, bringing an end to a standoff that began July 10. The deal covers the ABC affiliates in Boston and Pittsburgh
and multiple NBC stations that will begin carrying the Olympics next week.
Hearst and TWC had battled over carriage fees the cable operator would pay to make stations available in 14 markets. As per these disputes, the rhetoric became charged as TWC tried to take advantage of a comment Hearst CEO David Barrett made before Congress, saying blackouts are not fair to consumers.
TWC has a deal with Hearst, but may still have to grapple with some fallout from the matter. As some Hearst stations were off the air, TWC imported signals from Nexstar-owned stations hundreds of miles away into markets with blackouts.
Nexstar has sought relief from both the FCC and federal courts. In a previous carriage dispute, TWC took the import tack as well, so Nexstar may not be eager to drop its actions.
TWC may have been eager to reach a deal with Hearst because one of its executives is scheduled to appear on a panel at a Senate hearing next week. However, plenty of questions about the blackouts remain.
Meanwhile, Viacom and DirecTV continue their dispute that has networks such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon off DirecTV, which serves about 20 million customers.