Friday fights: Disney, TWC retrans war goes hand-to-hand

OK, so far we've detailed how trade and consumer groups are fighting over Comcast's (Nasdaq: CMCSA) NBC Universal acquisition and consumers and community/city officials are duking it out with Comcast and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC-WI) over service and costs. Now here's the latest update on what started as amicable talks between Time Warner and Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) but has devolved into full-scale, bayonets-poised, hand-to-hand combat.

With the current contract between the programmer and MSO set to expire Sept. 2--and the fall football season being used as leverage--ESPN President George Bodenheimer and sales and marketing head Sean Bratches were told to cut short vacations and get back to the bargaining table, according to a story in The New York Post. ESPN is, of course, probably the shiniest jewel in the Disney crown that includes ABC and other fairytale channels.

Meanwhile, TWC isn't the only service provider with a programmer problem. DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) is in danger of losing El Paso, Texas' KVIA-TV channel in a retransmission dispute. The station has been warning viewers that their signal may go dark on the bird and now DirecTV is responding that KVIA's parent company NPG "has put their viewers and our customers in the middle of this dispute" that, if you just look at the figures, doesn't look to be one that will be easily resolved. DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer said NPG is "demanding a well over 130 percent increase in fees for its ABC programming."

For more:
- New York Post has this story
- and El Paso Times this story

Related articles:
Goodbye Columbus? TWC-Disney dispute threatens Ohio State telecasts
Consumer in the middle: Broadcasters take retrans fight to public at new website