Time Warner Cable (NYSE, TWX) of South Carolina decided to delete a CBS affiliate in several communities including, Johnsonville, Effingham, Murrells Inlet, Pawley’s Island, Georgetown as well as Richmond and Brunswick counties in South Carolina.
WBTW-CBS affiliate (Media General, NYSE-MEG) has filed a complaint with the FCC claiming Time Warner’s lack of a 30-day notification, to either WBTW-CBS or Time Warner Customers as they are required to do under current FCC rules. In their complaint the station asks the FCC to sanction Time Warner for “it’s knowingly and willful violation of the FCC’s Rules. “
Now there are conflicting reports from both sides. “Hundreds of viewers have written and called expressing their concerns about the loss of service, “WBTW Vice President and General Manager Michael Caplan said on (scnow.com), “There is a great deal of misinformation in the marketplace. We would like for the public to know that the decision to drop WBTW was Time Warner Cable’s and theirs alone.”
Time Warner Cable Vice President for Media Relations Melissa Buscher said, “This issue is about duplicate programming. WBTW is an out of market affiliate in the Georgetown County Area, “ said Buscher. “By removing the station we’re able to provide more programming options in the future to our customers. To include, faster broadband and more HD services and that’s what our customers have come to expect. “
Some Time Warner customers claim they were given a week’s notice about the change via a postcard. However, the bottom line here is whether Time Warner adequately notified all affected of the planned change under the required FCC rules. This type of scenario will continue to “raise its ugly head” in the future as MSO’s are pressured to supply more digital programming by reducing their analog channels.
The Time Warner change yields 6 digital channels compared to loosing one analog channel. It just makes good business sense, especially when duplicate broadcast channels are involved. However, the public relations, as well as the legal aspects regarding Time Warner’s handling of this move, will be in question if the scnow.com story is factual.