KRIS TV in has filed a complaint with the FCC charging that Time Warner Cable is not negotiating in good faith, making it the second such petition to be flied by a station in the midst of a retrans battle in the past couple of weeks.
KRIS Corpus Christi, wants the FCC to order TWC back to the negotiating table. "It is disappointing and insulting to have waited 19 days for a proposal that Time Warner knew would be unacceptable to us on several key points," said Tim Noble, KRIS president and GM. "Their latest offer, rather than bringing us together, has driven us farther apart."
Using the threat of a Super Bowl blackout to make its point, the station says that with KRIS-TV, its multicast channel, Telemundo affiliate KAJA, and KDF all off TWC's system due to a retrans impasse, TCW viewers might not get to see the big game unless they switch providers or get rabbit ears. "It is highly unlikely that there will be an agreement in time for the Super Bowl to be seen by Time Warner customers," said the station on its Web site, which has a page devoted to the dispute. "The demand on other cable and satellite providers is high, with a 2-3 week wait for new installations. We continue to recommend that if 6 News, The Super Bowl, NBC, CW, Telemundo and KDF are important to you, now is the time to switch providers, or watch us over the air for free with an antenna."
The issue, not surprisingly, is money, and the bad faith, KRIS suggests, is not recognizing that the price is too high. "The Time Warner representatives - based in New York City, not Corpus Christi - remain unrealistic with their offers towards a new agreement," says the station on its Web site. It also says that TWC dropped the stations on Dec. 12 even though KRIS says they had consent to carry the signals while the retrans talked continued.
TWC sees it very differently, including denying the allegation of bad faith negotiating. "We offered them an extension through March 2012 to continue negotiations, but they refused," said a TWC spokesperson. "We sent them a proposal a few days ago and have had numerous conversations with them over the past several weeks. They are trying to scare customers who we thank for their patience."
And with NBC streaming the Super Bowl for the first time this year, TWC had a second alternative it could refer its customers to. "The most popular NBC programming, including the Super Bowl, remains available for free on the Internet and/or to our customers on Primetime on Demand."
Two weeks ago, Allbritton filed a bad faith bargaining petition at the FCC against Shentel.
The FCC currently has an open proceeding on retrans changes, in which its chief proposal is to clarify what it means by good faith bargaining.
While most retrans deals that came due at the end of the year were resolved without blackouts, a point the National Association f Broadcasters has made to buttress its case that the FCC need not step in, not all have avoided blackouts, with the Washington spotlight on those impasses having been shined by the stations filing the complaints.