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December 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Implementing a new tactic in its battle against local TV stations over retransmission consent fees, Time Warner Cable is replacing Smith Media stations in Utica and Plattsburgh, NY and Burlington, VT with affiliates of the same networks in Wilkes Barre-Scranton, PA, Watertown, NY, and Utica, NY. A Time Warner Cable executive said in a statement that it was taking the action so that its customers would not be deprived of their favorite programs. “It’s our responsibility to reach an agreement at a fair price on behalf of our customers, and Smith was simply unwilling to be reasonable during our negotiations,” the statement said. Utica, NY found itself in the center of the dispute as its Smith-owned NBC affiliate was replaced by an NBC affiliate serving Wilkes Barre-Scranton. However WUTR, an ABC affiliate in Utica replaced the Smith-owned station in Plattsburgh. Smith’s CW station in Utica, went dark on Time Warner cable; customers there were directed to the CW website, CWTV.com. The switches provoked a storm of protests. The Utica Observer-Dispatch indicated that most customers directed their anger at the station group, not at Time Warner Cable. “How are we going to get the [local] news otherwise?” one customer told the newspaper. “How are we going to know what’s going on? It’s all about money. And WKTV, they want more money? Give me a break.”