MASSENA - Due to a contract feud between Time Warner Cable and Hearst Television, Time Warner subscribers will not be able to get the Plattsburgh-based NBC affiliate, WPTZ.
Approximately 31,000 Time Warner subscribers, including customers in Franklin and northern St. Lawrence counties, will be indefinitely cut off from channel 5 (WPTZ), channel 863 (WPTZ-HD), and channel 854 (THIS-TV), Hearst officials said Wednesday.
Hearst Television issued a statement on Wednesday claiming Time Warner will not accept their terms for a retransmission fee to carry the channel. The fee is federally-mandated for cable providers that do not own a channel they broadcast.
In a Wednesday phone interview, WPTZ and WNNE President Paul Sands said he does not know when or if negotiations will resume.
On Wednesday, Sands said there have been daily phone and in-person conversations between Hearst and Time Warner representatives, but they have yielded no new formal negotiations, nor are any planned.
Mr. Sands said he is confident the dispute will be resolved in a timely fashion.
Time Warner Cable refuses to pay our station a reasonable fee relative to what it pays for other significantly less-popular channels, Mr. Sands said in a news release, adding the figure they are seeking is based on current market research.
He would not comment on how much Hearst is looking to get from Time Warner.
The release claims retransmission fees paid to stations are just seven cents of every dollar of the total carriage fees paid to cable networks.
But an email Time Warner sent to some of its subscribers claims Hearsts demand for a 300-percent increase is way out of line.
The Time Warner email blames Hearst for blacking out signals, whereas the Hearst news release places the onus on Time Warner for refusing to carry the channels.
Both documents claim each side has recently negotiated upwards of 150 carriage fee deals with other networks and companies without issue.
Im an optimist, I always will be, Mr. Sands said.
The Hearst news release points out that WPTZ is still available through antennae and other cable operators, including DirecTV and DISH Network.
Time Warner Cable did not return requests for comment.