Time Warner Cable, Sinclair Ink Temporary Deal

Time Warner Cable and Sinclair Broadcast called a truce just four hours before the stroke of midnight, avoiding a blackout. The two companies agreed to an extension that will clear Sinclair’s 33 TV stations on TWC’s system through Jan. 14, 2011.

In a statement, TWC said the extension would allow the parties to continue negotiating to reach a long-term agreement.

In the event of a blackout with Sinclair, TWC said on Dec. 30 that it was prepared to import broadcast stations from other cities to air ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox network programming affiliated with Sinclair’s stations. The controversial practice, one that TWC has been using in upstate New York, has forced two broadcast groups to file emergency enforcement complaints with the Federal Communications Commission.

While TWC and Sinclair continue negotiations, those between Northwest Broadcasting and DirecTV resulted in a blackout. At midnight PT, Northwest’s four Fox affiliates went dark on the satellite system.

For the most part, it was a quiet night on the retransmission negotiation front, but that didn’t stop retransmission reform proponents from continuing the call for new rules. “While we are pleased that Sinclair and Time Warner Cable have agreed to an extension of negotiations, the threat of a blackout remains. The FCC cannot act soon enough in the New Year to follow through on its pledge to revise outdated rules and protect consumers. Congress should also continue to monitor progress. In the meantime, broadcasters should make a New Year’s resolution to stop their bullying tactics,” said the American Television Alliance in a statement.

Last month, the FCC announced plans to open up a proceeding on retransmission negotiation rules.