TWC Drops CBS Affiliate to Build HD Line-up with HSN

Time Warner Cable says in order to replace "duplicate" stations with more HD venues in the Myrtle Beach-Florence area of South Carolina, it had to drop a local CBS affiliate that has served the region for more than 55 years.

But now the Media General property in question, WBTW-TV in Florence (DMA no. 104), says it will fight back and has filed a complaint with the FCC.

TWC had axed WBTW (ch. 13) from its channel line-up in both Surfside Beach and Georgetown County in early August, "leaving viewers there with fewer avenues for local TV news," according to the Sun News of Myrtle Beach. As of now, all the news stations reaching Georgetown County are based in Charleston, S.C. (DMA no. 99).

The cabler said the move is intended to avoid duplicate channels and replace them with HD channels. And what HD venues took WBTW's place? Residents of Surfside Beach got My Network, and Georgetown residents got HSN.

But according to WBTW General Manager Michael Caplan, TWC didn't follow FCC regulations because it didn't provide proper notice of the change to customers (and as of a couple of days ago, still hadn't served notice to Media General itself). Caplan said in his complaint that Media General first learned that TWC had dropped it "when the television station's disenfranchised viewers flooded WBTW with telephone calls and e-mails on August 11."

A TWC spokeswoman said the cabler believes it has complied with the law, "But we just learned about this complaint and we'll need to look into the matter further before providing additional comments," she told the Sun News.