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TMCNet:  Suddenlink, FOX quarrel over pricing

[January 03, 2013]

Suddenlink, FOX quarrel over pricing

Jan 03, 2013 (Williamson Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- As our representatives in Washington debate the 'fiscal cliff' that threatens the country's economy, a smaller debate will affect area cable TV providers.

Suddenlink Communications and News Corp./Fox are in the process of negotiations on pricing. Cable company pay programmers (network or station owners) a fee per channel, per month, per customer. The channels Suddenlink provides locally that would be affected are FOX Sports Ohio, FOX Sports South, FX, SPEED Channel, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD FOX Soccer Channel, FOX College Sports, FUEL TV, and FOX Movie Channel.

Suddenlink said that most contract negotiations between programmers and the cable company are usually not notable, but that some increases are "significant." "In those cases, we believe it's our responsibility to take a stand and help protect you from excessive increases," Suddenlink said.

However, News Corp says it has been trying to work with Suddenlink, but that the cable company has not been cooperative.

"We have submitted several proposals to Suddenlink in an effort to make sure you continue to receive all of our networks that you currently have on your TV line up," News Corp said. "Unfortunately, Suddenlink has not offered a resolution that is consistent with the marketplace and in line with other TV provider agreements." "Negotiations continue," said Gene Regan, Suddenlink's director of corporate communications.

The current negotiation does not affect Fox News Channel or Fox Business because those networks are part of a separate, longer-term contract, Regan said. Channels in the Charleston market that would be affected: Speed, National Geographic, FX, Fuel, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Movie Channel, Fox Deportes and Fox College Sports.

Regan said in a prepared statement, "We're willing to pay a fair price for these channels, but a nearly 25 percent increase -- which is what News Corp./Fox is currently demanding -- is excessive by any measure.

"We've made progress in our negotiations and, if more time is needed, we'll ask for an extension beyond Jan. 2," he said. "If News Corp. lets us, Suddenlink will gladly keep these channels under the current agreement until a new agreement is reached." If News Corp. removes its channels, Suddenlink customers will receive a $1.52 per month credit, applied retroactively and prorated for the number of days the affected channels are not available, the cable operator said.

Suddenlink offers television, Internet, phone, security and other services to more than 220,000 households and 9,500 businesses in West Virginia, making it the largest cable broadband company in the state. Suddenlink also has operations in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Arizona.

Information about the dispute is posted on a website Suddenlink has established at SuddenlinkOnYourSide.com.

___ (c)2013 Williamson Daily News (Williamson, W.Va.) Visit Williamson Daily News (Williamson, W.Va.) at www.williamsondailynews.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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