Media groups work on new contract for Myrtle Beach area

WBTW News 13, the CBS news affiliate in Myrtle Beach, said Friday that its programming may not run in Time Warner Cable next year.

Media General, which owns WBTW, is stalled in negotiations with the cable company over a contract that expires on Dec. 31.

Rose Dangerfield, director of communications for Time Warner Cable in South Carolina, said there’s still plenty of time left to reach an agreement.

“A lot of negotiating can go on between now and Dec. 31 even though it’s the holidays,” she said. “We’ll be set up monitoring it. Typically, the real heat of the negotiation is a lot closer to 12/31.”

In a news release WBTW said if there’s no agreement by Dec. 31, the station will go off air.

Randy Ingram, general manager for WBTW, said a lack of a new contract would affect the local newscasts, Wheel of Fortune, and even NFL football. Those programs, he said, could be viewed via antenna or by switching to a different cable or satellite provider.

Dangerfield said most national programming likely wouldn’t be affected if the two sides can’t agree. Shows could be streamed on Primetime OnDemand, or online.

For Time Warner Cable, she said, it’s all about getting the best deal for the customer.

“The price increase [Media General is] asking for is over 200 percent,” she said. “We’re saying that’s inappropriate.”

Ingram said that’s unfortunate.

“Our highly-rated television station is an important asset to our local community and it is unfortunate that Time Warner Cable does not recognize our fair market value,” he said.

Dangerfield couldn’t say how the deal may affect customer’s wallets without the final contract.

“If we’re going to have an increase, that means our customers do,” she said. “So we want there to be as little increase as possible, and if there is an increase we want something to show for it. Some additional value or programming.”

Time Warner Cable did not issue a statement to follow Media General’s.

Dangerfield said the company prefers to keep negotiations in the boardroom.

WBTW is encouraging viewers to leave comments of support at dontdropwbtw.com.

Time Warner Cable has its website (twcconversations.com) with information about negotiations like this – which Dangerfield said occurs throughout the year.