Published Date Written by Lloyd JonesCONWAY — Cable television subscribers used to waking up to "Good Morning America" were greeted with a blue screen Tuesday morning and may be without their ABC affiliates for awhile.
Time Warner and Hearst Television have been at a stalemate over a new deal for carrying WMUR (Channel 9) and WMTW (Channel 8), the two ABC affiliates serving this area, and other Hearst Television stations across the country. The carriage agreement expired at 11:59 pm on Monday, and TW/Insight subscribers lost channels 8 and 9 after midnight.
"Hearst TV, the owner of this station, has forced us to stop carrying its channel," appears on channels 8 and 9. "Visit www.twcconversation/local for moor information."
WMUR posted the following on its website: "WMUR's carriage agreement with Time Warner expired at 11:59 pm on July 9. Unfortunately, notwithstanding our best efforts to reach a new carriage agreement, we were unable to do so. As a result, unless there is a change in Time Warner's position, carriage of WMUR will no longer be available to you on Time Warner systems.
"We cannot predict if or when discussions with Time Warner will resume or if or when WMUR's programming will be restored on Time Warner systems.
"In light of this impasse, we urge viewers to make alternative arrangements for receipt of our signal. Our signal remains available over the air for free and also on other cable systems, DIRECTV and DISH Network in southern New Hampshire.
"We apologize for this inconvenience and thank you for your loyal support.
"You can determine the type of antenna you will need to receive our signal at http://www.antennaweb.org/. Customer service numbers for other providers carrying our signal include the following: DIRECTV: 1-888-777-2454 or DISH Network: 1-800-823-4929."
WMTW posted a similar message on its website and added "We will livestream our newscasts on WMTW.com."
Time Warner sent out an e-mail to local towns in Mount Washington Valley alerting them of the issue.
"I wanted to provide you with some information on a programming dispute happening between Time Warner Cable and Hearst Television in case you hear anything from constituents," wrote Shelley Winchenbach, director, Government Relations ME/NH for Time Warner. "On July 9, 2012, Hearst Television chose to black out their signals (WMUR and WMTW, ABC affiliates) from our customers rather than continue negotiations, and despite their CEO saying just two weeks earlier that broadcasters blackouts are unfair to consumers.
"Time Warner Cable has reached hundreds of agreements with other broadcasters without broadcaster blackouts, but Hearst's demand for a nearly 300-percent increase is way out of line," she continued. "That kind of outrageous increase is unfair to our customers and unsustainable for our business. We believe broadcaster blackouts are wrong. Despite Hearst's blackout, we stand ready to continue negotiations and are hopeful that the channel will be returned to the lineup shortly. In the mean time we are looking at replacement programming options for our customers and will keep you posted on any developments."
Hearst Television is also blacking out programming on WNNE-TV (Hanover) and WCVB-TV (Boston), also ABC affiliates.
Contacted by The Conway Daily Sun, Andrew Russell, Time Warner manager, communications for New England, said his company is eager to resume negotiations and is also exploring other ABC affiliates as a temporary solution.
"We stand ready to continue negotiations and are hopeful that the channel will be returned to the lineup shortly," Russell wrote Tuesday morning. "We plan to offer replacement programming — I will send details when I get them."
While the screen remained blue on Channel 9, Time Warner did run infomercials on Channel 8 Tuesday afternoon.