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Feud cuts cable feed for Sunday Bills game Channels 4, 23 owner rejects Time Warner

If you are a Time Warner Cable customer and you want to watch the Bills game with the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, you're probably going to need to dust off the ol' rabbit ears.

Or figure out how to connect your Internet to your television.

Or show up with a pizza, a six-pack and a desperate smile at a friend's who has satellite.

That's because, as you're probably aware, the owner of Channels 4 and 23 -- LIN Television -- has cut off its feed to Time Warner Cable.

The move came after the midnight deadline Thursday when LIN couldn't reach a national agreement with the cable giant to keep the Western New York stations, along with others across the country, on the air.

LIN, which owns the local CBS and CW affiliates, wants to be compensated by Time Warner for allowing it to carry the stations.

Time Warner believes it shouldn't pay for channels that are available over the air for free.

The fight isn't just between Channel 4 and 23 and Time Warner. Ten other markets are affected by the tiff.

Negotiations were still under way Friday night.

Both sides of this battle have been working overtime in Buffalo trying to paint the other side as the bad guy who is going to take away the Bills.

Channel 4 has been leading its news broadcasts with stories about its battle with the cable giant. The top story at 5 p.m. Friday featured a Time Warner Cable customer whose wife "freaked out" over the possibility of not being able to see the Bills Sunday and scrambling to subscribe to the DISH Network.
WIVB-TV's Web site featured ads from the DISH Network that urged: "Don't let Time Warner take away your favorite show!" as well as Verizon Fios, bragging "Cable Doesn't Stand a Chance."

There's also now a toll free number to teach Channel 4 fans "about your television choices."

Time Warner Cable in Western New York, for its part, has plastered on its Web site's home page: "LIN TV has pulled WIVB and WLNO from your cable lineup. They want you to make up for falling ratings and advertising revenue."

The Web site also offers up a video with instructions on how to hook up your computer to your television monitor using their broadband connection. It tries to make it look easy, but it'll no doubt have many people shaking their heads over an alphabet soup of special cables and inputs and outputs to make it happen.

On Friday, the cable company gave away thousands of antennaes, and it is planning another giveaway at 2 p.m. today at its stores in downtown Buffalo, Amherst, Orchard Park and West Seneca, underscoring how the programming is available for free over the airwaves.

In the meantime, Time Warner has replaced CBS programming normally carried on Channel 4 with programming from the CBS College Sports Network. Channel 23 has been replaced with HBO Family.

This means that if Time Warner customers click on Channel 4 at 4 p.m. Sunday hoping for the Bills game, they instead will be treated to the second half of an NCAA women's volleyball game between Tulane and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, followed by an encore airing of the MaxPreps Lemming Report, billed as "the only national weekly high school football recruiting show."

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