Heather McFarland/Staff Writer
On December 13, 2011, many in front of their television sets were unable to view programming on KRIS-TV, which carries NBC programs, K47DF, a Fox affiliate, K68DJ, Telemundo, and KRIS-DT2, the South Texas CW. The outage came after Time Warner Cable pulled the programming due to a failed contract renegotiation attempt with Cordillera Communications, the owner of the stations.
Cordillera offered Time Warner an extension so that programming would continue to be available while negotiations continued, however Time Warner declined the offer. The channels were dropped after Time Warner Cable contended that Cordillera Communications’ owners asked for what they called an unjustifiable rate increase that they would be forced to pass down to their customers.
KRISTV General Manager, Tim Noble said Cordillera is asking for fair compensation for their programming and that the 400 percent increase claim by TWC is untrue. “We have reached agreements with fourteen other stations,” said Noble, and “the only company refusing to recognize the value of programming for their customers is Time Warner Cable. We’ve come to agreements with Comcast, Dish Network, AT&T, as well as Grande, just to name a few.”
On January 13, Time Warner Cable filed a formal complaint with the FCC, an action Noble says is not part of a “good faith” negotiation process. Time Warner Cable’s last counter proposal on January 19 was for a lesser amount than what was originally offered on the table. Noble said it also took Time Warner nineteen days to respond to their proposal.
“I just don’t see how they can say that they are trying to get this resolved when it takes them nineteen days to counter with something that is not favorable and was counterproductive,” Noble said, adding that Time Warner’s lack of interest in the importance of football to south Texas is a huge oversight.
“Not only are people in the area loyal to our newscasters and meteorologists such as Dale Nelson on our local channel, but football is a big deal,” Noble said, referring to the cut off of the last season games due to companies’ dispute.
While the companies continue to negotiate, other options remain for those who want their favorite shows back, i.e. switching cable companies. AT&T U-Verse is available in a few areas of the Costal Bend, along with DirecTV and Grande Communications, to whom many have already switched.
According to an anonymous customer service representative with Grande, customers are switching from Time Warner at a rate of 300 customers daily.
“The phones haven’t stopped ringing since Christmas,” he said, “we just had several employees sent from Austin to help with the influx of service changes.”
The time frame for service is three to five days, and Grande is offering packages that range from $100 to $130 a month and do not require a contract.
Like Time Warner, Grande’s cables are in-ground and do not require a satellite. Another option to view the dropped channels is to by a VHF antenna, models of which range in price from $15 to $40 on Amazon.com.