FCC Says Cable TV Blackout Violated Rules

Knoxville — The Federal Communications Commission this week announced that Time Warner Cable violated federal rules by shutting down ABC network signals to millions of its cable subscribers.

A University of Tennessee broadcasting professor said Friday that the two companies, Time Warner and ABC owner Disney, are trying to extract favorable concessions from each other.

“Perhaps it’s a warning shot fired by Time Warner at other broadcasting companies,” said Dr. Sam Swan. “Clearly the cable industry is struggling with issues of retransmitting broadcast signals.”

The FCC said Time Warner blacked out ABC signals from about 3.5 million cable subscribers because of its dispute with the Disney Corporation about fee schedules for retransmitting network programming.

Swan said the FCC affirmed Time Warner’s requirement to carry the network signals.

“Cable companies have to carry broadcast signals and compensate the broadcasting companies,” Swan said. “But the sticky point is the amount of compensation.”

The FCC said it would consider whether enforcement action against Time Warner was necessary.