SBD/January 12, 2012/Media

Little Hope For Quick Resolution As MSG Blackout On TWC Hits 12th Day

After 11 days, there "appears to be little hope for a quick resolution" to the dispute between MSG and Time Warner Cable, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The dispute has "led to the disappearance of the MSG channels on Time Warner Cable, which has 1.7 million customers in the New York metropolitan region and upstate." MSG and TWC have "kept their feud bubbling through newspaper ads, radio and TV commercials, and on Web sites, where MSG implores aggrieved fans to switch to DirecTV, RCN or Verizon FiOS." MSG has also "invited fans to viewing parties in various cities where they can watch the games." The two companies "agree on little in a nasty squabble that has focused on what Time Warner Cable will pay MSG to carry the two regional sports networks in a new contract." MSG says that the cable provider, the "nation’s second largest, has rejected all of its proposals for two years." TWC says that MSG has "twice reneged on a 6.5 percent rate increase and that its final demand was for a 53 percent increase." Sandomir notes local fans have "seen sports channels blacked out before." For 10 days in '04, MSG and "what is now called MSG Plus were removed from Time Warner’s systems." The next year, the fight "resumed and ended only after a 63-day blackout." Cablevision "refused to show the YES Network for all of 2002." MSG "lost Yankee rights after the 2001 season when the team created YES." The Mets "left the MSG fold after 2005 when the club set up its SNY network." Yet MSG costs "nearly as much as YES and a little more than SNY." SNL Kagan data indicates that MSG’s estimated monthly subscriber fee this year is $2.63, YES is $2.99, SNY is $2.55 and MSG Plus is $2.28. Whatever MSG’s demands are, it "clearly values itself as an elite local sports network, even without" MLB. The price of MSG "also reflects higher rights fees for the Devils since 2005, and the purchase of Sabres rights" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/12).
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