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Journal Asks Wisconsin To Force TWC Refunds

Cites Wisconsin Subscriber Rights Law; TWC Says Reading of Statute Is Off Base 8/14/2013 8:16 PM Eastern

Journal Broadcast Group has taken a new tack in its retrans fight with Time Warner Cable.

The broadcaster has asked the state of Wisconsin to force TWC to provide its subs with a credit for service they have been "denied" since Journal's WTMJ-TV Milwaukee and WGBA-TV and WACY-TV, both Green Bay, Wis., went dark on TWC July 25.

in a letter to John Greene, director of the consumer protection and antitrust unit of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Journal cites a Wisconsin statute, the Video Programming Service Subscriber Rights Law, requiring video programming providers to compensate customers for "any" interruption of service lasting more than four hours in a day.

Time Warner Cable has argued that the law applies only to total service outages, but Journal says the law applies since TWC is charging for service it is no longer delivering.

In a letter to Journal cited by the broadcaster, Time Warner Cable said subs are not entitled by the law to refunds, which Journal was urging them to seek. "That statute addresses refunds for customers who experience a total service outage," wrote Michael Quinn, TWC VP and assistant chief counsel, "not the discontinuation of a particular programming service that no longer is offered by the multichannel video programmer in question."

TWC threatened legal action if Journal continued to urge subs to seek the refund.

"We look forward to discussing with the Attorney General why the law cited by Journal Broadcasting Group does not apply in this situation, and why Journal persists in misleading its viewers in this way," TWC said in a statement late Wednesday (Aug. 14). "We regret that our customers are being subjected to these falsehoods, and would prefer Journal put as much energy into completing our negotiations as they are in distracting viewers from the real issues."

September