SBD/April 23, 2013/Media

Suddenlink Cable Exec Says CSN Houston Content Has Limited Regional Appeal

Suddenlink Cable Senior VP & Chief Programming Officer Patty McCaskill in a letter on Friday said that Astros and Rockets games, as well as other programming on Comcast SportsNet Houston, are of "greater local interest than regional interest, which limits CSN Houston’s comparative value to viewers across a five-state area," according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. McCaskill was "responding to a letter written" by CSN Houston President & GM Matt Hutchings, whose RSN is "attempting to negotiate carriage agreements with Suddenlink and other cable, satellite and telco carriers across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico." McCaskill in the letter "drew a difference" between what she described as RSNs such as FS Southwest and "local" networks such as CSN Houston. She wrote, "CSN Houston is comparable to other local sports networks, and for that reason, we would be delighted to discuss terms with CSN Houston that are comparable to those we have discussed and/or agreed to with other local sports networks, including distribution that is focused in the relevant, local area.” Suddenlink has "offered to carry CSN Houston as part of a specialized sports package that would require subscribers to pay an additional monthly fee." But CSN Houston "wants to be on the same expanded basic package" as FS Southwest (CHRON.com, 4/19). McCaskill wrote with Suddenlink's "last offer, we agreed upon a price relevant to carriage on a digital sports tier." If CSN Houston "were seeking expanded basic coverage, then 'the price will be needed to be adjusted accordingly.'" She wrote that if CSN Houston wants to be expanded on basic cable, "we would gladly consider a substantially lower price for carriage on a substantially larger (more widely distributed) tier. This point is critical" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 4/19).
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