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The showdown between Madison Square Garden and Time Warner Cable resumes with a blackout.
The Dolan family-controlled MSG and the cable giant TWC failed to come to an agreement ahead of a New Year’s Eve deadline for a new carriage free agreement for sports networks MSG and MSG Plus, which carry games of the MSG’s New York Knicks and New York Rangers basketball and hockey teams. As a result, MSG has pulled Monday’s telecasts for the Knicks’ game against the Toronto Raptors, and the New Jersey Devils versus the Ottawa Senators on the ice. The games were slated to air at 7 p.m.
“We deeply regret that our fans are being inconvenienced,” MSG Media President Mike Bair said in a statement to the New York Post, adding that no further discussion with TWC has been planned of yet.
Meanwhile Time Warner said in a message to suscribers — 2.8 million of whom pay to access MSG’s channels — that almost 40 percent of Knicks games and 30 percent of Rangers games can be watched on other networks.
“I don’t think any fan would find being able to see less than 40 percent of games acceptable,” Bair responded.
Also off the air, if the programming-fee standoff continues: Tuesday’s New York Islanders hockey game and Wednesday’s Knicks matchup with the Charlotte Bobcats.
Mike Angus, a Time Warner Cable senior vice president, told Bloomberg News that the two parties had “a deal within reach earlier this year” — putting a 6.5 percent increase in prices to MSG on the table — but “MSG reneged on the deal and instead, demanded a whopping 53 percent increase and refused to negotiate further.” (Bair called the 53 percent figure a “gross mischaracterization.”)
TWC CEO Glenn Britt said recently that he thinks sports channels should be sold separately from core cable packages so customers who are not interested in sports wouldn’t have to pay the extra costs.
Last month, amid tension over fees for the sports channels, TWC dropped MSG’s music network, Fuse, from its programming slate. The dispute left Fuse without 7.8 million subscribers, in the second instance that the channel was dropped by a pay TV giant in the past 12 months after satellite TV firm Dish Network did the same.
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