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Nexstar to Time Warner: Take WBRE off Utica Cable

Saturday Update: Nexstar CEO Asks Utica Mayor to Revoke TW Franchise Rights

Updated 12/18 – UTICA — A national TV trade website says Nexstar Broadcasting has issued a cease-and-desist letter to Time Warner Cable, regarding the cable company’s decision to replace WKTV with WBRE, the Nexstar-owned NBC affiliate from Scranton, Pennsylvania.  TWC made the switch on Thursday, after it and WKTV’s parent company failed to work out a new retransmission deal before the old one expired.

Word of Nexstar’s letter to Time Warner was first reported by  The site reports it has received confirmation of the move from Nexstar CEO Perry Sook.

Added Saturday 12/18 – Sook has since posted comments (TVNewsCheck claims they verified Sook posted the comments himself) on the article, in which he says, ” the mayor of Utica NY should REVOKE Time Warner Cables franchise rights in that market and bring in another cable operator.”  Mayor David Roefaro tells WKTV he’d have to discuss the idea with the city’s attorneys.  He said also revoking Time Warner’s franchise rights in the city would require approval from the City Council.

From the “it’s a small world after all” department, Nexstar controls WKTV’s top local competitors — it owns Fox affiliate WFXV and it operates ABC affiliate WUTR through a JSA/LMA with Mission Broadcasting.  Going another level further, the dispute between Smith Media and Time Warner also involves two stations Smith controls in the Burlington/Plattsburgh market.  There, TWC replaced Smith-controlled ABC affiliate WVNY with the signal of WUTR.

According to, sources say Nexstar issued the C & D letter to Time Warner because the cable company never obtained permission to import WBRE’s signal into Utica, or WUTR’s signal into Burlington.  But, in the latest report from the Utica Observer-Dispatch, TWC says it’s decision to import WBRE is “within its contractual rights” with Nexstar.

Locally, the dispute between Smith Media and TWC involves the carriage of WKTV and CW11 on the former Harron Cable (and later Adelphia Cable) system, which covers the City of Utica and its immediate suburbs; along with some systems in Herkimer County, and all the systems covering Otsego County.  In other areas, WKTV remains on Time Warner’s lineups.  (See our earlier story for a full list of affected systems.)

4 Comments to Nexstar to Time Warner: Take WBRE off Utica Cable

  1. Hmm… Mr. Sook conveniently leaves out two important facts:
    * There is only one other cable provider in all of upstate New York
    * That company, Atlantic Broadband (which serves a corner of Cattaraugus County), is Nexstar’s sister company, co-owned by ABRY Capital.

  2. I’m not sure I understand why TWC wouldn’t bring in say the Syracuse NBC affiliate rather than one from out of state. Then at least the news might still be of some value. Presumably there must be some contractual reason preventing it.

    Sook’s demand makes little sense, should TWC just have left the channel blank? It appears they chose the Scranton station as the closest available they already had the right to do this with.

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