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MSG Says Time Warner Subscribers May Lose Knicks, Rangers

Madison Square Garden Co. said it expects Time Warner Cable Inc. to drop programming from MSG Network, carrier of live coverage of the New York area’s professional basketball and hockey games, at midnight tonight.

A 2005 accord between the companies expires at midnight. MSG owns rights to the National Basketball Association’s Knicks and professional hockey’s Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Sabres.

“Given Time Warner Cable’s reportedly record-setting $5 billion investment in Los Angeles Lakers rights, we expected that they would be eager to continue to deliver top New York sports programming to their customers, who are unfortunately caught in the middle of this dispute,” Michael Bair, president of MSG Media, said in a statement.

Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable-TV service, called on MSG Co. to return to the bargaining table.

“The decision to remove their programming from our lineup rests entirely with MSG,” New York-based Time Warner Cable said in an e-mailed statement. “Rather than engage in a war of words, they should come back to the table and get a deal done.”

The two sides have haggled over prices for the channels, a sign of tension in the pay-TV industry over the cost of sports shows. MSG sought a 53 percent increase, according to Melinda Witmer, an executive vice president at Time Warner Cable.

Bair this week called that “categorically untrue,” saying he didn’t know where Time Warner Cable was “getting its math from.”

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