No End in Sight for Madison Square Garden, Time Warner Cable Feud

 @ibtimes
on January 03 2012 12:28 PM

A dispute between Madison Square Garden Company and Time Warner Cable may endure well into January after MSG Networks was pulled from the New York-based cable company's lineup Sunday after the two parties failed to agree on how much Time Warner Cable would pay for MSG services.

Negotiations between the two parties have stopped, MSG spokesman Dan Schoenberg said in an e-mail to International Business Times. The company is urging Time Warner Cable users to switch cable companies.   

We would love for [MSG] to come back to the table, but they refuse, Time Warner Cable spokesman Alex Dudley told IBTimes.

The two parties initially agreed to a 6.5 percent rate increase, but then MSG asked for a 53 percent increase and refused to negotiate further, Time Warner claimed at the time of the blackout. Schoenberg said the 53 percent claim is a gross mischaracterization.

The blackout announcement resulted in both parties blaming one another for the breakdown.

All we have asked is for Time Warner Cable to value our programming in the same way as other TV providers-nothing more, nothing less, Michael Blair, president of MSG media said in a statement announcing the blackout. Unfortunately, they rejected every offer we made to them for almost two years.

However, Time Warner Cable said MSG was the party which didn't negotiate fairly.  

We hate that our customers have been put in this terrible position, and MSG has offered no credible explanation as to why they suddenly need a 53 percent increase over last year's rates, Mike Angus, senior vice president for content acquisition at Time Warner Cable said in a statement following the blackout. Perhaps after renovating the Garden they are looking for New York sports fans to fund the renovations of the Forum they recently purchased in Los Angeles.

MSG purchased the 18,000-seat Forum arena in Inglewood, Calif. in late 2010.

New York-based MSG Networks, which spun out of cable giant Cablevision in 2010, offers a variety of professional sports teams in New York, including game coverage of the New York Knicks NBA team, along with NHL teams the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. The cable company told customers that nearly 40 percent of regular season Knicks games, 30 percent of Ranger games and 20 percent of Sabres games will still be available to Time Warner Cable customers, as will most NBA and NHL playoff games.   

Shares of MSG fell about 2 percent in Tuesday trading to $28. They rose more than 9 percent in 2011.

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