Once again, Time Warner Cable Inc. subscribers face the possibility of losing one of their local network TV stations.
Time Warner is still trying to reach a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. on the fees that Time Warner pays to carry Sinclair’s station. The two sides said Friday they have agreed to a second extension, so the existing contract now expires at midnight Saturday.
After that, local affiliates of Fox, CBS and ABC could go offline for some Time Warner customers. No NBC stations will be affected.
If there is a blackout, Time Warner says customers will still be able to see network programming. It plans to replace signals from Sinclair with feeds from nearby stations in other cities, a tactic the company says it can pursue under its existing contract with Sinclair until the end of February. That means subscribers will still see shows such as “Glee” and “Desperate Housewives” but not the local news.
Sinclair general counsel Barry Faber said the broadcaster was looking for a week extension. But Time Warner is confident it can reach a deal with Sinclair in the next 24 hours, said spokeswoman Maureen Huff.
Separately, Sinclair and regional cable provider Bright House Networks said Friday they have reached a tentative agreement on fees and have extended negotiations until next Friday to work out details. Those talks cover stations reaching about 1 million Bright House customers.
These types of disputes have grown more contentious over the past few years as broadcast companies seek higher fees from cable TV providers. Traditionally, broadcasters relied on advertising to pay the bills. But with competition for ad dollars on the rise, they have been looking for a second source of revenue.
Major stations affected include the Fox stations in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, N.Y., and San Antonio, Texas, the CBS station in Portland, Maine, and the ABC station in Greensboro, N.C. Both ABC and Fox stations are affected in Columbus and Dayton, Ohio.
Viewers would still be able to watch the local station with newer, digital TVs and an antenna.