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Cable Operators

Time Warner Puts GSN on Notice

3/08/2006 7:33 AM Eastern

Time Warner Cable may pull the plug on game-based service GSN in several markets as early as next week, although GSN executives are not conceding defeat.

GSN CEO Rich Cronin said the network is continuing to negotiate with the MSO in the hopes of staving off its plans to drop the service in its New York City and Binghamton, N.Y., systems, representing approximately 1.6 million subscribers.

The Binghamton removal could happen as early as next week to make room for SportsNet New York -- owned by Time Warner Inc., Comcast Corp. and Major League Baseball’s New York Mets -- while New York City wouldn’t remove the network until May 1, according to Time Warner sources.

It’s unclear when GSN’s current agreement with the MSO expires.

In addition, the MSO may move the network from basic to a sports tier in its North Carolina system beginning in April, according to a Time Warner spokesman.

In a prepared statement, Time Warner said the moves are part of a periodic review of its channel lineups. “We move and remove channels based on many factors, including cost, the network’s investment in new programming and ratings,” the MSO said. “It is also occasionally necessary to make room on a particular channel lineup for new, potentially more popular networks.”

Cronin said the 58 million-subscriber network’s broad appeal and reasonable cost should keep it appealing to Time Warner and other MSOs, although he would not provide rate-card specifics.

“If you look at the three things they cite -- cost, ratings and programming investment -- we’re reasonably priced, we’re more popular than any midsized network and we’ve made a huge investment not only in programming, but in interactivity,” he added. “We’re a broad-appeal, family-friendly network, which is something that is really important to cable.”

September