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NYC Official Demands Time Warner Cable Pay for Lost Games

Jan. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Time Warner Cable Inc. should reimburse customers who are missing New York Knicks and Rangers games because of the carrier’s dispute with programmer Madison Square Garden Co., New York City Comptroller John Liu said.

The clash between the second-largest U.S. cable company and MSG “does nothing more than unfairly punish” Time Warner Cable customers, Liu said today in an e-mailed statement.

Liu has asked the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, the city agency that regulates cable franchise contracts, to “make sure” Time Warner Cable reimburses subscribers for the loss of MSG and MSG Plus. The two cable networks carry the National Basketball Association’s Knicks and the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils.

Time Warner Cable customers lost access to MSG Network on Jan. 1 after the two sides failed to negotiate new contract terms. MSG was asking Time Warner Cable to pay a 53 percent price increase for the right to carry its programming, according to Mike Angus, a Time Warner Cable senior vice president. MSG Media President Mike Bair said the claim was a “gross mischaracterization.”

The comptroller’s office didn’t offer specifics on how Time Warner Cable might reimburse customers, who don’t pay a separate charge for MSG and MSG Plus. The channels are part of Time Warner Cable’s expanded basic package.

‘Consumers Deserve’ Compensation

“Consumers deserve to be compensated for what they have gone through as a result of this dispute, plain and simple,” Mike Loughran, a spokesman for Liu, said in an e-mail. Loughran said the comptroller’s office would discuss compensation plans with the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

Time Warner Cable has already replaced MSG with NBA TV and MSG Plus with NHL Network, two channels that typically would require customers to pay $5.95 a month for access, Alex Dudley, a spokesman for Time Warner Cable, said in an interview.

“We at Time Warner Cable think that all New Yorkers can agree that a 53 percent price increase is way out of line,” Dudley said.

Time Warner Cable rose 2.1 percent to $64.88 at the close in New York. MSG Co. lost 1.4 percent to $28.25. Both companies are based in New York.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net

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