SBD/January 6, 2012/Media

Buffalo Lawmakers Ask State To Intervene In MSG/TWC Dispute

Three Buffalo city lawmakers want the New York State Attorney General's Office “to get involved in the dispute between Time Warner Cable and the Madison Square Garden network, warning the spat may cost Buffalo revenue,” according to Besecker & Pignataro of the BUFFALO NEWS. New York Common Council President Richard Fontana said that Majority Leader Demone Smith and University Council Member Bonnie Russell joined him in asking Attorney General Eric Schneiderman “to intervene in the dispute.” TWC may “lose subscribers because it no longer airs the MSG network, which carries” Sabres games. Fontana said that the New York Attorney General's Office, under Eliot  Spitzer, had “intervened in a cable television dispute downstate.” Besecker & Pignataro note “under a franchise agreement between Time Warner and the city, Buffalo receives 5 percent of the cable provider's gross revenue earned in the city.” Fontana said that in previous years, the city's revenue “has been up to $2.5 million.” Michelle Duffy, a spokesperson for Schneiderman, Thursday said that the attorney general's office “had no plans to intervene” (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/6). In N.Y., Juan Gonzalez asks, “When will someone find a way to end these shrill cable television wars that suddenly turn innocent paying customers into hostages of big corporations?” As the “bickering continues, Time Warner customers are denied the programs they paid for.” Neither Congress nor the FCC, which regulates government cable policy, have been “willing to do something about these blatant abuses.” The local government, which “just awarded 15-year cable franchises to these companies, claims it is powerless.” But Congress “could require binding arbitration in such disputes so that service interruptions would be reduced,” and local politicians “could show some nerve” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/6).
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