As Congress listens, Sinclair warns Time Warner Cable subscribers the end might be near

In a 21st Century version of an air raid siren, Sinclair Broadcast Group is using the Internet--and broadcast run crawls and local newspaper ads--to warn Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC-WI) viewers to prepare to take cover ... or at least find a new way to receive its programming fare.

"We think it is important for our viewers to have as much advance notice as possible about disruptions to their service," the newspaper ad says. "Whether you want to receive the stations over-the-air or plan to switch your pay television provider, this can take time and we want our viewers to have sufficient opportunity to take whatever action they choose without the risk of missing even one day of programming, particularly because of the very popular programming that will air on and after January 1, 2011."

That would be a day after Sinclair could rip its 33 stations, including all four major networks and the CW Network, from the air in 21 TWC markets including San Antonio, Columbus, Ohio, Norfolk, Va., Milwaukee and Tampa. The likelihood of that happening is pretty good, the ad suggests, because Sinclair is "not optimistic about the chance that we will successfully negotiate a new deal."

Glenn Britt, Time Warner's CEO, is among cable executives making the trip to Washington today to seek government intervention to "prevent broadcasters from using consumers to gain leverage in negotiations," he reportedly will testify.

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