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The Sabres Observer

MSG And Time Warner Should Look In The Mirror

During their dispute with DISH Network in November 2010 over fees for broadcasting Sabres games, MSG Networks Executive Vice President and General Manager Dan Ronayne had this to say: “Every other operator is paying fair market rates, while they seek some sort of special treatment.”

Fast forward to January 2012 and MSG’s feud with Time Warner Cable, and logic will lead you to conclude that Ronayne apparently believes that fair market rates have gone up 53% in only 14 months.

On Time Warner’s end, how much would cable bills in Western New York increase if they were to submit to MSG’s demands?  If you do the math, apparently you’re looking at about $2.65 per month.

“Industry estimates peg MSG’s per-month cost at $5+ for MSG and MSG+,” Time Warner Communications Manager for WNY Joli Plucknette-Farmen said in a Buffalo News online chat this morning.  “So a 53% increase over that industry figure isn’t anywhere near $20, but it’s more than just a few cents.”

While we frustrated Sabres fans aren’t privy to the inside wheelings and dealings that led to this stalemate, hardly any of us care.  But what you might be interested to know is this: (1) MSG felt that what Time Warner was paying 14 months ago was a fair price, and (2) Time Warner could pass on a cost increase of less than an arena beer per month to its customers to get Sabres games back on the air.

I spoke with Sabres President Ted Black after the Blogger Summit Wednesday night and asked him which side was really to blame for this ordeal.  While admittedly he was mincing words, he did at least give me this: “I’m really pissed at both of them right now.  That’s as much as I want to get into it.  I’ve spoken to both sides… It’s kind of like marriage counseling at this point.”

The following morning on his weekly segment on WGR-550 AM, Black reiterated that the Sabres are in a bind.

“The legality of it is we have a contract with MSG, and they have the rights to distribute the games,” Black said.  “We get a rights fee from them.  If the Sabres were to do something to breach this contract, which we are not, MSG would be able to go to court and get an injunction in about 15 minutes.  This is not something that money cures.”

To sum it up, this whole fiasco appears to be about bickering between two high profile media entities.  And Black has made it clear that things will be different when he is at the controls during the drawing up of future agreements.

“I’ve told MSG that when we do another deal we aren’t going to be put in this position again.”

Follow The Sabres Observer on Twitter: @DaveDavisHockey

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About The Sabres Observer

Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003.  He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene.  Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.

 

 

Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]