It has become a “Super Squabble” between the two sides, and thousands of area television viewers are caught in the middle.
By now everyone has heard and noticed that the NBC affiliate station in the Coastal Bend is off the air. The parent company, Cordillera Communications, owns KRIS (NBC), KAJA , KDF and the local CW station.
KRIS blames its lack of signal on Time Warner and Time Warner blames it on the NBC station.
“It seems to us Time Warner has stopped negotiating,” said Tim Noble, president and general manager of KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi.
Noble said Time Warner sent its last proposal on Jan. 9 and that his company responded on the Jan. 10 and has yet to receive a counteroffer from Time Warner. It has been 17 days and counting.
“We are willing to negotiate but they have not countered,” he said.
Jon Gary, the Time Warner vice president of communications for Texas, said although he is not involved in the negotiations directly, “I understand negotiations are ongoing.”
Noble said the only communication he has received from Time Warner since he sent a counteroffer is an e-mail encouraging his company to accept the offer Time Warner sent prior to KRIS countering.
“We are very timely (to respond) to serious counters but not to posturing e-mails,” he said.
Noble said someone from his side did in fact respond to the e-mail asking for a serious counteroffer that addressed the issues KRIS had brought up.
The disputes and negotiations have been ongoing since October 2011 in hopes that an agreement would have been reached much earlier.
Root problem’s money
“This disconnect is about money,” Gary said. “How much money they want from our customers for their programming.”
KRIS Communications feels it is being reasonable.
“We have no problem with them reselling our program but they need to pay a reasonable price.”
KRIS claims that its four local stations have more than 10,000 viewers per month. The problem Time Warner has with paying more for the 10,000 viewers to keep watching is a majority of the content they are watching is free.
All of the shows that appear on NBC can be seen for free online so Time Warner doesn’t see a reason to charge more for something that can be viewed for free elsewhere.
“What kind of price tag do you put on something free?” Gary asked.
The example Gary gave was ESPN content. People pay for ESPN content because it is not something that can be viewed or streamed online for free.
As for the other stations owned by Cordillera, Gary said the Telemundo signal has been replaced with a national Telemundo signal that Time Warner has an agreement with but the other two stations (CW23 and KDF. TV) have signals with exclusive rights owned by Cordillera, so they cannot be viewed until an agreement is reached. When an agreement is reached, those stations will all return to the air.
Football not important
When Noble was asked if an agreement would be reached prior to Super Bowl Sunday, he replied, “I seriously doubt it.”
Noble said KRIS worked very hard to try and reach an agreement prior the Dallas Cowboys’ last football game and the Houston Texans game. When urgency was expressed to the Time Warner people in New York, Noble sad they told him in the grand scheme of things it was only one day. Noble, being from Texas, understands one day with no Texas football is huge.
Both Noble and Gary said that an agreement in the next week was highly unlikely and people should start looking toward other options.
Got rabbit ears?
Both suggested people go and get “rabbit ears.”
“We are handing out free antennas across the Coastal Bend,” Gary said.
There are three retail locations in the Coastal Bend where Time Warner customers can pick up their free antennas. (The Corpus Christi location is 4001 Saratoga Blvd., Suite 106. The Alice location is 2041 E. Main, Suite #700. The Portland location is at 821 Market St.)
Additionally, Noble suggested seeking another service provider and Gary suggested watching the NBC online or view the Time Warner Cable video on the demand platform.
Gary also wanted people to know that for the first time in Super Bowl history the game will be stream live on the web.
Fans make other plans
Meanwhile, unless a new contract is agreed upon before next weekend, the Super Bowl will not be seen by the thousands of cable customers, and that has most of them making other plans.
“I usually have family and friends over to watch the Super Bowl, but this year, we may have to make other arrangements. We may just listen to it on the radio, or we’ll call Dish TV Network to come out,” said former mayor Kenneth Chesshir.
“It’s not just about the Super Bowl, but we also enjoy watching Saturday Night Live and other NBC shows.”
The failure to reach an agreement is not so bothersome to a few sports fans. They’ll be headed to local clubs, restaurants and sports bars to view the NFL match-up between the New England Patriots and New York Giants.
“It’s become a tradition to watch it (Super Bowl), but it won’t be a major change for me. We used to go to friends’ houses, but the last few years my buddies and I go to Scores. It’s a whole lot of fun, and we don’t have to cook or clean up afterwards,” said Henry Torralva Jr.
Bars will benefit
The ones that may benefit most from the problem are the local establishments that provide DirecTV along with libations and food.
“It could be a plus. We’re looking for big crowd. We have 17 televisions and DirecTV, and we’ll be running a few appetizer specials on Super Bowl Sunday,” said Dog and Bee Pub shift manager Stacey Baker.
Scores manager Samantha Gonzales mentioned, “We’re hoping for more business. We saw an increase even when the Cowboys were not shown by cable.”
Scores has a Super Bowl Party in the works and will have live music the night before.
“It’s a big weekend for us, for sure,” Gonzales said.
The squabble definitely has some sports fans upset, but it would probably be much more vocal and venomous if the Cowboys or Texans were one of the teams involved in the Super Bowl.