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Saturday, December 31, 2011
MSG: Time Warner Cable will drop us

By Ian Begley

It might be an unhappy New Year for Knicks fans who watch the team on the Madison Square Garden Network.

According to Madison Square Garden, no agreement was expected to be reached between MSG and Time Warner Cable to continue to carry MSG Network and MSG Plus.

Therefore, as of midnight on Sunday, MSG Network and MSG Plus was dropped from the Time Warner Cable channel lineup. That took away MSG Network and MSG Plus's local live coverage of the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Sabres, according to Madison Square Garden.

"We are disappointed that MSG and MSG Plus will be dropped from Time Warner Cable's lineup," said Michael Bair, president of MSG Media, said in a statement before MSG was dropped. "All we have asked is for Time Warner Cable to value our programming in the same way as other TV providers -- nothing more, nothing less. Unfortunately, they rejected every offer we made to them for almost two years.

"In the end, they were simply not interested in conducting serious negotiations on behalf of their customers and instead spent their time grossly mischaracterizing our positions to the public. We certainly hope Time Warner Cable returns to the negotiating table and reconsiders our good faith proposals."

"Given Time Warner Cable's reportedly record-setting $5 billion investment in Los Angeles Lakers rights, we expected that they would be eager to continue to deliver top New York sports programming to their customers, who are unfortunately caught in the middle of this dispute," Bair added. "And they've stated publicly that they're committed to broadening their investment in local sports. Yet they're about to drop some of New York's most popular sports programming -- what does that say to New York sports fans?"

In a statement released earlier this month, Time Warner Cable said that MSG has "reneged" on an original proposal, which the cable company was willing to accept.

"MSG wants a 53 percent increase in the price we currently pay. We buy sports all over the country and New Yorkers understand that a 53 percent increase is way out of line," Time Warner Cable spokesman Eric Mangan said. "MSG is also insisting that we carry FUSE, which is a music network that is watched by 0.6 percent of our customers. If we don't carry FUSE, they have threatened to double the rate they charge for MSG.

"We value sports and understand that costs are rising, which is why we're willing to pay the 6.5 percent increase that MSG originally wanted. MSG has now reneged on that offer."