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Time Warner Cable, MSG Settle Seven-Week Dispute Amid 'Linsanity'

Lin's Play Gave Each Side a Reason to Get Deal Done

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Time Warner Cable and Madison Square Garden reached an agreement on a new contract, ending a seven-week stalemate that kept the operator's 2.8 million local subscribers from watching the New York Knicks and their Jeremy Lin-led winning streak.

Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin Credit: Knicks

Alex Dudley, a spokesman for Time Warner Cable, confirmed the agreement, which was first reported by The New York Times. He said MSG will be back on Time Warner Cable in time for Friday night's game against the New Orleans Hornets. He declined to disclose terms.

The two sides had a face-to-face meeting this week. The attention surrounding Mr. Lin and the team played a role in pushing the two into an agreement, Chris Marangi, a portfolio manager at Gamco Investors, said in a telephone interview.

"Linsanity helped," said Mr. Marangi, whose funds own about five million MSG shares and 500,000 Time Warner Cable shares. "Time Warner Cable realistically couldn't have dropped MSG -- it's too important to too many fans in New York to not be carried. Both sides probably gave a little."

David Joyce, an analyst at New York-based Miller Tabak & Co., also cited the craze for Mr. Lin as nudging the sides into an agreement. The Knicks, buoyed by the previously overlooked Harvard graduate, have won seven straight to even their record at 15-15.

Time Warner , the second-largest U.S. cable provider with about 12 million subscribers, had said MSG was asking for a 53% increase in carriage fees, a figure MSG disputed.

Cable and satellite-TV operators pay more than $4.50 a month per subscriber for MSG and MSG Plus , according to researcher SNL Kagan. Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt has publicly supported the idea of putting sports on separate tiers from basic cable to give nonsports fans cheaper bills.

Mr. Dudley acknowledged the help of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and NBA Commissioner David Stern in the negotiating process.

"I applaud both Mr. Dolan and Mr. Britt and their companies," Mr. Cuomo said in an emailed statement. "I thank them for being responsive to the needs of New Yorkers."

Mr. Schneiderman said his office has worked with Time Warner Cable and MSG over the past month to help resolve the dispute. "We are pleased that both parties have reached an agreement that will finally allow Knicks, Rangers, and Sabres fans to enjoy the rest of this season's games," Mr. Schneiderman said.

-- Bloomberg News --

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