SYRACUSE -- Certain customers of Time Warner Cable have not been able to view Syracuse's NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) since late last month. One reader tells us he's unhappy that the ABC affiliate was removed from his lineup on June 29th. Time Warner Cable tells CNYTVNews.com that the change was requested by WSYR-TV's owners.
A reader who wishes to remain anonymous wrote to ask why WSYR-TV was removed from the cable lineup in his town and in surrounding areas throughout Chenango, Delaware and Otsego Counties. Using our Contact Form he wrote, "we have had channel 9 for 30 years. I called Time Warner and they said there is nothing they can do about it." Our reader says he received a postcard from Time Warner, informing customers that WSYR-TV would be removed, but it also notes that Binghamton ABC affiliate WIVT remains on the lineup.
When CNYTVNews.com contacted Time Warner, spokesperson Stephanie Salanger told us the removal of WSYR-TV from those systems was "a decision made by that station's owners so as not to have duplicate networks on in one market." WSYR-TV's parent company, Newport Television, is also the owner of WIVT. Of the counties mentioned above, Chenango and Delaware are part of the Binghamton television market, while Otsego county is part of the Utica market. (That being said, Newport's move makes sense, considering WSYR doesn't benefit from out-of-market viewers, but WIVT loses out when Binghamton market viewers report they were watching WSYR instead of WIVT.)
Knowing that market boundaries and programming overlap would likely be factors in the answer, we also asked Time Warner for some historical background: why was WSYR (formerly WIXT) carried on cable lineups in these areas in the first place? Salanger reminded us how different cable TV was back in its earlier days:
20 – 30 years ago the race was on to get as many channels on as possible and WSYR (WIXT) had always been a successful station. So adding to what was then a 22-channel lineup was a big win for us – and a huge benefit to our customers.
But Salanger also points out that things started changing in the early 1990s, when new FCC regulations made it more difficult for cable and satellite companies to carry out-of-market stations with duplicate programming. Salanger says Time Warner has been "working with WSYR to get extensions so as to not have to black out the channel," but when the latest extension ran out, "the decision was made by station owners" to end the WSYR overlap, making WIVT the sole ABC affiliate on cable lineups throughout the Binghamton market.
Salanger says affected customers were reminded they can still view WSYR news content via 9wsyr.com, "but more importantly [Time Warner's 24/7 local news channel] YNN is there for local coverage as well."