WGME, cable TV company in accord

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Try 13 on the remote. It should work.

Time Warner Cable and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which operates WGME Channel 13 in Portland, announced about 6:30 p.m. Sunday that they’ve reached an agreement that allows the cable provider to air Channel 13 programs through Jan. 12.

That’s an important movement from where the two communications companies were just a few short days ago. Time Warner was about to start handing out rabbit ears – old-fashioned antennas – to its cable customers in the WGME viewing areas. Sinclair wasn’t happy with Time Warner’s payment offer to carry its programming. Time Warner wasn’t anxious to up the ante to seal a deal with Sinclair.

All of that changed by New Year’s Eve.

“We are very close to an agreement,” said Time Warner spokesman Peter DeWitt Sunday evening.

“WGME and Time Warner have reached an agreement in principle for the retransmission of WGME’s signal on the former Adelphia Cable systems in Maine,” the television station reported in a “breaking news” posting on its Web site about the same time.

“WGME has granted Time Warner an extension for carriage through Jan. 12 while the details are finalized,” it added.

DeWitt said the accord reached Sunday to continue carriage of Channel 13 by Time Warner should mean that customers have “seamless” viewing of the CBS affiliate at least through Jan. 12. By then, he said he expects Time Warner and Sinclair will have signed formal contracts establishing their broadcast relationship.

The negotiations have been contentious at times. Until the weekend, Sinclair had posted a notice to its viewers on its Web site encouraging them to contact Time Warner and urge it to continue the broadcast arrangement. Sinclair officers had also been urging viewers to lobby Time Warner through comments to the mainstream news media.

Time Warner, for its part, had said it was negotiating in a good-faith effort to continue carrying WGME broadcasts, but noted that sometimes in business such talks don’t always bear fruit. As a last resort, it said it had ordered rabbit ear antennas to provide to its customers so they could capture the WGME signal from the airwaves if negotiations had failed.

The Sun Journal and WGME Channel 13 are media partners. That means the newspaper and the television station share news stories, some tips and sometimes work jointly on stories.

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