Time Warner drops WBNS from lineup

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Time Warner Cable officials say they are making the TV service better but that the move did cost viewers a few hours of Columbus news.

Many Tri-State customers have been upset that WBNS – Columbus (Channel 18) has been dropped from the lineup. But Mark Cole, regional manager for Time Warner, says this change will actually pave the way for more channels.

“We put on Ohio News Network recently to provide Ohio news,” Cole said. “This was a move to bring more to our customers. We are not trying to be the bad guy. We are trying to be the good guy.”

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ONN is broadcast on channel 27.

Cole said WBNS was actually blacked out approximately 22 hours of the day because of FCC rules that require the cable provider to carry the closest network affiliate, in this case WOWK of Charleston-Huntington, W.Va.

Ironton resident James Hannon is one viewer who misses WBNS.

“I liked it because you got Ohio news and statehouse news, which you can’t get unless it is major news,” Hannon said. “… I don’t care what happens in Poca, West Virginia. I used to watch the (WBNS) local news all the time to know what is going on in Columbus.”

While conceding that he understands the cable industry is a business, Hannon said he is concerned that Time Warner isn’t serving Ohioans as well as it could.

“I just feel like we are paying more and getting less,” Hannon said.

Cole countered that Time Warner recently added MGM HD, MLB and the Big Ten Network. The company is looking to add Chiller and several others this year, Cole said.

“We are trying the very best we possibly can to watch out for our customers and to bring things that are important to their lives,” Cole said. “But it is a business. Period.”