TWC, CBS Extend Retrans Deadlines, Blackouts Continue For Journal Communications

As Time Warner Cable (TWC) and CBS continue to extend deadlines that could lead to lengthy station blackouts in large markets, darkness continues for stations owned by Journal Communications on TWC systems. Since July 25, affiliates in Milwaukee, Omaha and Green Bay have been off the air in homes served by the cable operator as a payment dispute ensues.

Affected stations include the NBC outlet in Milwaukee, CBS affiliate in Omaha and an NBC/MyNetworkTV duopoly in Green Bay. Stations in Palm Springs, Calif., are also impacted.

Stations that are off the air cover 13% of Journal’s total reach. At the end of last year, Journal reached new deals on how much Comcast and Charter would pay to offer its local stations, but the standoff on those retrans consent payments with TWC continues as Journal indicated that it wants to get what it believes to be fair value for its content.

As with CBS, TWC may be emboldened by the summer time frame when networks are airing reruns and there is a dearth of top-tier sports events that could lead to more consumers canceling TV service.

Journal President-CFO Andre Fernandez said on a conference call Wednesday the financial impact has been minimal so far, but that could change if the blackouts ensue.

“It’s in our interest to resolve this negotiation as quickly as possible, so that it’s not a protracted affair. If it becomes a protracted affair …that’s when there could be potential risk to us,” he said.

With the TWC-CBS dispute, TWC briefly pulled some CBS stations in markets earlier this week, but the signals were quickly restored. The two sides have now set a Friday afternoon deadline to find a deal that impacts CBS-owned stations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Journal has looked to partly mitigate the impact on consumers by streaming local programming online. It doesn’t have the rights to do this with network content, but much of that is available online.

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