Sinclair Ends Talks With Time Warner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A contract dispute between TV-station operator Sinclair Broadcast Group ( SBGI) and Time Warner Cable ( TWC) appears to have reached a stalemate.

On Tuesday, Sinclair announced in a press release that it had ended negotiations with Time Warner after the cable company rejected Sinclair's most recent offer -- which would hike fees by about 10 cents per subscriber. Time Warner also said that it wouldn't make a counter-proposal.

As a result, the cable company may end up dropping Sinclair television stations -- it owns 58 local affiliates in markets around the country -- once their contract ends at midnight Dec. 31.

Sinclair issued a statement on its Web site two weeks ago claiming that Time Warner Cable was not interested in reaching an agreement on a contract renewal. it also claimed that the cable company was refusing to submit to binding arbitration before a neutral third party concerning their disagreement.

"Time Warner Cable has now demonstrated no real interest in a fair arbitration process," Sinclair executive vice president Barry Faber said in a Dec. 16 statement. "Time Warner Cable is attempting to tilt the playing field in their favor rather than allowing an impartial third party the opportunity to make a reasoned decision based on all applicable information."

Time Warner Cable responded a few hours later saying it had agreed to arbitration but that Sinclair had declined the offer.

"Unfortunately, this sort of behavior is typical when negotiating with Sinclair," Time Warner said in a statement. "We'd still like to reach an agreement or enter into arbitration with Sinclair, so that we can provide our customers with uninterrupted programming, and we're hoping that Sinclair will begin to act in a more reasonable manner."

If the two companies fail to agree on a new contract, Time Warner Cable will lose the right to carry the broadcast of 33 television stations located in 21 markets across the nation. The stations include ten News Corporation ( NWSA) Fox affiliates and five Disney ( DIS) ABC affiliates.

--Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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