It’s been almost two weeks since the extension expired and WTMJ-TV Ch. 4’s broadcast was blocked out to local Time Warner Cable subscribers.
At issue is the contract for retransmission rights, where the cable company would pay Journal Communications money for its ability to charge customers to deliver what is already a free over-the-air broadcast.
As we’ve been covering this latest round of talks, all we’ve been updated with is more comments from both sides. The viewer is the one stuck in the middle.
"Journal is deliberately trying to mislead their viewers. They know that we have a separate team of employees dedicated to working with them to reach a fair deal on behalf of our customers," said Time Warner Cable spokesperson Mike Hogan late last week.
"We value all of our customers, which is why we simply can't agree to Journal's outrageous demands for a 200 percent price increase. We thank our customers for their patience and support as we continue to fight hard to keep their prices down."
His comments reflect the fact that Time Warner Cable is currently in a similar dispute with CBS, which owns local TV stations in other markets. As part of the negotiation strategy, Time Warner blocked Showtime for all subscribers across the nation. CBS and its parent company also owns Showtime.
"They seem quite willing to make accommodations for their New York and L.A. customers, where they agreed to an extension while the two sides negotiated, but they refused to do that in Milwaukee," said Steve Wexler, the GM at WTMJ.
"Why not? Makes no sense, and shows us how they see their Wisconsin customers."
Wexler said that Time Warner Cable’s statement that the Journal didn’t budge would be funny if it wasn’t disingenuous.
"Time Warner pulled us off their system. Time Warner refuses to pay prevailing rates to local broadcasters," he said.
"They pay more for stations that many people don't watch, but continue to blame local broadcasters for rising cable costs. It's very unfortunate and disappointing."
FAMILY NIGHT: WITI-TV Fox 6 will be presenting an encore re-broadcast from Packers Family night on its digital 6.2 channel on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
During the football team’s inter-squad scrimmage, WITI beat all other local broadcasts with a 7.6 rating, finishing ahead of WDJT-TV Ch. 58 with a 3.9.
The local Fox affiliate’s 6.2 channel is on the Time Warner Cable guide at channel 986 and is channel 967 on Charter.
PACKERS ALTERNATIVE: For those of you who may miss out on the Packers and Arizona preseason game on Friday, I believe this may be a viewing option for you.
The game will be broadcast on Telemundo Wisconsin. Time Warner Cable subscribers, who are currently without WTMJ-TV Ch. 4 because of the ongoing retransmission contract talks, could still see the game.
Now if you can’t understand play-by-play announcer Andy Olivares because you don’t speak or understand Spanish, you could mute the TV. Then, on a radio, tune into the Journal’s AM radio station at 620 WTMJ-AM, and hear Wayne Larrivee and Larry McCaren with the call on the Packers Radio Network.
Because of how broadcast signals differ between TV and radio, you may have to deal with a little delay one way or the other … so, it’s not perfect.
COUNTRY: The FOX News Channel’s "FOX & Friends" All-American Summer Concert Series continues this Friday with the Academy of Country Music Award winning music group Eli Young Band. Best known for hits like "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" and "Crazy Girl," they will discuss their summer tour schedule and perform some of their songs around 7 a.m.
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.