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Kyle Potter, Published October 01 2013

Cable One loses CNN, TBS over fee dispute with Turner Broadcasting

FARGO – Cable One, the only non-satellite provider of cable TV to Fargo homes, on Tuesday lost CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network and several other channels over a contract dispute.

Cable One said a contract with Turner Broadcasting had expired after several months of fail negotiations over the fees the company pays to carry the channels on its lineup. In addition to CNN, the deal covered five other Turner stations, according to Cable One: CNN Espanol, Headline News, Turner Classic Movies, TruTV and Boomerang.

The cable provider said several other Turner-owned channels covered by a different contract – including TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network – will also be unavailable while the contract dispute drags on. TBS broadcasts Major League Baseball playoff games, the first of which were on Tuesday.

Turner said in a news release that the deal expired at noon Tuesday. It also said the deal included TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network, channels Cable One claims aren’t part of the contract that expired.

It’s unclear how long the outages will last. Scott Geston, general manager for Cable One in the Fargo-Moorhead area, said these types of disputes can be resolved in hours or stretch on for weeks.

He called Turner’s decision to black out TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network retaliation for the contract dispute.

Cable One, which serves 730,000 customers in 19 states and also provides Internet and telephone service, said in a news release Tuesday that it will automatically credit its customers while the channels are missing.

Patricia Neimann, a Cable One public relations manager, said the credits have yet to be calculated because they will be determined by how long the channels are down.

Disputes over fees a cable company must pay to transmit signals of cable stations or local TV broadcasts have become more common in recent years. A similar dispute emerged earlier this year between AMC and Cable One, though it was settled before the station was dropped.

Cable One claims Turner Networks is asking for fees 50 percent higher for stations the cable provider says has “steadily declining ratings.”

Turner said in a news release it is asking Cable One to “pay the established rand accepted rates already in the marketplace” for its stations.

Neimann said the cable conglomerate is hoping to “resolve this issue with Turner without having to pursue legal action.”

In the meantime, a website run by Cable One directs its customers to watch TruTV, Boomerang and CNN on the Internet or flip to AMC or FX Movies for programming similar to TCM.


Forum reporter Wendy Reuer

contributed to this report.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Kyle Potter at (701) 241-5502