WMUR back on Time-Warner cable after corporate owners reach a deal
Jul 20, 2012 (The Telegraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The 10-day corporate dispute that left much of northern New Hampshire and the Keene unable to see WMUR over cable TV has ended, although nobody's saying who won.
Hearst Television, which owns Manchester-based WMUR along with two dozen other broadcasters around the country, said Thursday night it has reached an agreement with Time Warner Cable that will return its channels to that cable system.
Few details were released. During the dispute, the two corporate giants issued conflicting estimates about who was being greedier.
In New Hampshire, Time Warner is the dominant cable provider around Keene, and in much of the Lakes Region and the North Country. The dispute didn't affect the Nashua area, most of which is served by Comcast.
The dispute concerned carriage fees, which are paid to broadcasters by what are known as MSOs, or multisystem operators, such as Comcast and satellite networks. Negotiations for the payments are complicated, often including other details such as coverage of secondary channels owned by the broadcasting company.
As a result, these contract disputes have become more common, partly a reflection of the changes and stresses occurring in television's traditional business models.
A similar dispute knocked Boston's WHDH-TV off DirecTV for part of January, while Viacom and DirecTV only just ended their own 10-day dispute, triggered in part by the question of whether online streaming of shows should be part of the arrangement. Earlier this month, the Dish Network Corp. dropped AMC Networks amid a similar dispute.
WMUR took advantage of the dispute to experiment with live streaming its morning and night newscasts, which are probably its most valuable properties -- although, as a reflection of how muddied things are, it didn't stream the sports portions because major league baseball limits what sort of highlights can be shown online.
Even with that limit, the fact that the state's dominant TV channel could so easily do an end run around cable companies shows why long-establish contractual arrangements are so unsettled.
The station said little about the dispute, other than a statement in which it "thanks its viewers who watch the station on Time Warner Cable for their patience as this matter was resolved."
Hearst Television owns and operates 29 local television stations and two local radio stations, reaching approximately 18% of U.S. television households.
WCVB, Channel 5, the ABC affiliate in Boston, was also affected.
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