The fee fight between Charter and Northwest Broadcasting that has left 11 network affiliates blacked out on the cable operator’s systems since Friday night has become very personal.
At least, according to Northwest CEO and founder Brian W. Brady.
The Northwest chief has just posted a scathing attack at station web sites on Charter and in particular, its CEO, Tom Rutledge. Brady accuses Rutledge of not carrying about his subscribers, some of whom could not watch Sunday’s Super Bowl due to the blackout.
The list of 11 network affiliates affected in the battle includes NBC stations in Yuma, Arizona, Crescent City, California, and Jackson, Wyoming.
“People in Yuma, AZ, Crescent City, CA and Jackson, WY couldn’t see the Super Bowl while he (Rutledge) was most likely sitting in a luxury box in Minneapolis enjoying the game.,” Brady writes.
Brady continues: “Why is this happening people ask? Because Tom Rutledge the President and CEO of the second largest cable company on the planet doesn’t care about and has no respect for you. He only cares that he can use you as one more weapon in negotiating with our company while you continue to pay for the substandard service most of you have described to me.
“Tom’s recent 98-million-dollar bonus dwarfs the total size of our company. Their propaganda says they just want a fair deal. Spectrum is a publicly traded company and has a market value of 109 billion dollars. One share of their stock cost 391 dollars. I’m sure that is more than the majority of Tom’s subscriber’s monthly car payments. I’m confident if Tom can run a 109-billion-dollar company he is competent enough to negotiate a fair deal with our company without your assistance,” Brady says.
Charter has launched a web site to communicate updates on the dispute called NorthwestFairDeal.com. But while the site criticizes Northwest for seeking what Charter claims are excessive carriage fees, it does not attack Brady, and only mentions him by noting his name and e-mail address at the bottom of the one-page site.
But even that gets Brady worked up.
“I had thousands of emails hit my server with a subscriber’s name and a <email@example.com> address. I talked to their subscribers who told me that there was a web site directing them to call Northwest with my name, number and email address on it,” Brady writes. “This wasn’t some low-level manager who was freelancing a decision to sacrifice subscribers, it had to go right to the top. My speculation is that Tom Rutledge the President and CEO of Spectrum made the decision. It is troubling that a company of that size and scale could be so cold and calculating that they would sacrifice the loss of subscribers in smaller communities around the country. ”
Brady finishes his diatribe by publishing Rutledge’s e-mail and urging his viewers to contact the Charter executive.
“So, I encourage you to write an email or make a call to Tom and share with him your thoughts on what he’s done,” Brady says. “Share with him your general dissatisfaction with his company. That same dissatisfaction represented in your posts on Spectrum’s Facebook page. Tell him you don’t want to pay nearly 4 dollars for a channel guide that every other cable company has as part of their service. Tell him that you don’t ever want Spectrum to disrespect you again by using you as a weapon in his smear campaign against another company. Tell him that if he won’t do his job and get you the programming you’re paying for that you will go to his competitor. ”
The TV Answer Man has asked Charter for a comment and will report back here if we receive one.
The Northwest stations affected by the dispute are: KSWT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Yuma, Arizona; KYMA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Yuma; KIEM-TV, the NBC affiliate in Eureka, California; KVIQ, the CBS affiliate in Eureka, KAYU-TV, the Fox affiliate in Spokane, Washington; WSYT-TV, the Fox affiliate in Syracuse, New York; WICZ-TV, the Fox affiliate in Binghamton, New York; KMVU-TV, the Fox affiliate in Medford, Oregon; KFFX-TV, the Fox affiliate in Yakima, Washington; KAYU-TV, the Fox affiliate in Spokane, Washington; and KPVI-TV, the NBC affiliate in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
— Phillip Swann