Northwest Broadcasting CEO Calls Out Charter’s Rutledge

Brady urges subscribers to contact cable exec amid blackout
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The CEO of Northwest Broadcasting, whose TV stations are blacked out on Charter Communication systems, is urging Charter subscribers to let Tom Rutledge, the cable company’s CEO, know how they feel about the situation.

In a blog post, Northwest CEO Brian Brady says that Charter did not negotiate with the broadcaster, made up conversations concerning potential offers and ultimately deprived viewers of watching the Super Bowl, while, he assumed, Rutledge was at the game.

He also tells viewers the outage is happening because Rutledge “doesn’t care about and has no respect for you. He only cares that he can use you as one more weapon in negotiating with our company while you continue to pay for the substandard service most of you have described to me." Brady also says Rutledge’s $98M bonus is bigger than the size of the broadcaster.

Charter's responded, in a statement: “This is simply how Northwest operates. Northwest pulled its programming from nearly all other distributors: Verizon, DirecTV, Dish and Cable One. They went dark with Verizon and Cable One just last year. They are demanding to be paid significantly more that we pay any other broadcast station for the same network programming.”

Brady says that Charter executives did not negotiate with the broadcaster, that Charter refused to counter Northwest offers and that, just before the Jan. 31 deadline, Charter asked why Northwest never responded to a proposal. Northwest said it wasn’t aware of the proposal and was told it was conveyed in a phone call.

“For the record that's a conversation not a proposal. When challenged about the accuracy of a  statement, [a Charter exec] responded, ‘You're right I made that up.’ These negotiations are hard enough without people making things up,” Brady said.

Brady said Northwest offered Charter an extension to the day before the Super Bowl to continue negotiations. Charter said it wanted an extension to the day after the game so subscribers could watch the Super Bowl before they took the station down. When Northwest declined, “their next response was, 'we are taking your station down in the next ten minutes' and they hung up the phone," said Brady. "We haven't heard from them since.”

Brady blames Rutledge for the way negotiations have been conducted.

In addition to providing an e-mail address and phone number for viewers to get in touch with Rutledge, Brady set up a hashtag, #DoYourJobTom.

A Charter spokesperson declined to comment on the content of the specific blog post, but the company responded to the impasse in a statement: “Northwest’s fee increase demand of over 75% is outrageous especially given that their programming is available free over the air and online. For more information, Spectrum customers can visit NorthwestFairDeal.com."

A source familiar with the negotiations said Northwest impasses with Verizon and Cable One a year ago, at Super Bowl time, also resulted in stations going dark, and said the station is asking significantly more than Charter is paying other stations for the same programming.

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