Blackout or Knockout for Louisville’s WDRB and WMYO or Insight Communications?

It’s all about MONEY! Round one of the battle for bucks is over and the loser, at least right now is US, the viewing public. But the story is much bigger than just WDRB TV not being on Insight Communications Cable TV station channel 9. It could spell the start of a financial war between local TV, Time Warner and US, the viewers!

First the background: If you tried tuning in to channel 9 on insight today, you were greeted with the screen “The ownership of WDRB and WMYO has forced us to stop carting this channel. Visit for more information”.

That website says the Block Communications – the owner of local television stations WDRB and WMYO — has forced Insight Communications/Time Warner Cable to stop carrying its channels on your cable system.

But go to WDRB’S website (let’s face it you can’t tune it in unless you have a digital antenna) and there’s a little different story. The website says “WDRB has tried very hard to reach an agreement with Time Warner but the deadline has passed. After much negotiating, Time Warner has decided to reject our repeated offers leaving many of our viewers without a local TV station you like”.

The reason for all of this is money. WDRB charges Insight / Time Warner money to allow their content (TV Shows and News programming) to be on the cable. The contract was up with WDRB and WMYO and the fee was apparently up for negotiation. WDRB wants more money Insight/Time Warner has so far refused to pay it.  Much of this is spelled out on WDRB’s website in an editorial by GM Bill Lamb.  What makes this somewhat public battle different is that for the first time, it includes Time Warner, the new owners of Insight Communications feeling the backlash of at least one local TV station.

Right now the fight may be between WDRB and Insight Communications/Time Warner but viewers are the real losers. If the fight continues and no one blinks besides the public, WDRB and their TV news team may be the real losers. Fewer viewers mean less profit for TV station owners and that could mean cutbacks for the staff. WDRB should be commended for taking on what they feel they deserve; more compensation for their programming. But they may be picking a public battle that could backfire.

WDRB needs to spin their position publicly and get viewers behind their efforts. Unfortunately right now easiest way to get to the public (their TV station) has been silenced as they are off the cable. If I was Bill Lamb I’d be on the phone to the GM’s and News Directors of local TV stations asking for their support and TV news stories on those stations about the battle. Let’s face it if WDRB wins and gets more money for their content the other local TV stations could follow suit.

I’m sure Insight/Time Warner is aware of that and because of it will attempt to prevent WDRB from raising their fees. For now at least, if you have a favorite TV show on WDRB and WMYO the only way to see it is to plug a digital antenna into the back of your TV and hope you get a digital signal.

It starts with a simple slide on Insight channel 9 saying Insight has been forced to stop carrying WDRB. But it could end with:

1)     Insight/Time Warner making less money.

2)     Fewer Local TV stations on cable.

3)     More people going to Dish or Direct Satellite TV

4)     Insight charging customers more money to see local TV and pay for the increases.

5)     WDRB caving in (from network and financial pressure) and getting paid a small increase (to save face) or no increase at all.

Let’s hope it’s not number 4. But I suspect that’s exactly what will happen. In any case, Hey welcome to Louisville Time Warner!

Bob Sokoler is a former Anchor/Reporter turned Louisville Realtor 7 years ago, and co-owner of The Medley Sokoler Team in Louisville Kentucky. You can learn more about Bob, his Team by clicking Louisville Real Estate.