Q. What’s going on and what is this negotiation about?

Charter has built a multi-billion dollar business by compensating WISC-TV and others for its programming and reselling it to customers in a package.

Both WISC-TV and Charter have extensive data about the actual viewership of WISC-TV and all the other channels. There is no dispute that WISC-TV is one of the most viewed channels, if not the most viewed channel on Charter's system.

We are simply asking for a fair fee that is reflective of our viewership and is consistent with the agreements we have with all other cable and satellite systems.
The current negotiation truly is about fairness.

If Charter continues to insist we’re being unfair, look at the percentage of programming fees that are being paid to local broadcasters versus all of the other cable channels. That information is on your cable bill.

Local broadcasters have close to 50% of all local viewing yet receive a small portion of the fees Charter charges you.

We truly do not understand why Charter would take one of the most watched channels off its system as opposed to one of the national cable networks that has a fraction of the viewing audience of WISC-TV and provides no local news or community service.

We can’t recall a time when Charter threatened to drop one of the national cable networks.

It also appears that Charter is trying to hold down what it pays local broadcasters across the country. We are not alone. It must be easier for Charter to negotiate against a local broadcaster than a national network.

If you could see what Charter pays for everything it buys, you would have a better understanding why WISC-TV doesn't think Charter is negotiating fairly with us. You only get to see what Charter is charging for local stations.

Q. How will this negotiation impact my monthly bill with Charter?

This is completely up to Charter. Again, Charter has built a very profitable business by reselling programming provided by local stations and cable companies. If you look closely, you can see how little the local stations impact your bill. The local stations represent a small fraction of your programming fees despite having close to 50% of the local viewing.

Q. Is WISC-TV making unreasonable demands of Charter?

No. What we are asking is fair. WISC-TV has negotiated dozens of agreements with other cable and satellite providers. Charter has negotiated THOUSANDS of agreements. Both parties should know what's fair.

WISC-TV has agreements with all other operators in the market and our request for compensation from Charter is in the same range as all the other agreements we have recently negotiated. What we are asking for is far below the rates Charter pays to national cable channels that are far less popular than WISC-TV, have far fewer viewers, and provide no local news or community service.

WISC-TV is willing to make a very fair deal with Charter similar to all of the other recent deals we have made with its competitors. If BOTH parties can continue to compromise, a deal can be reached. Without more compromise, WISC-TV will be removed from Charter. No doubt that would be bad for both of us.

We really didn’t think it would come to this but if you value WISC-TV’s programming, you may have to switch providers to continue watching WISC-TV on Jan. 1. If you stick with Charter, please have patience with us both while we continue to negotiate.

Q. What are my other options for getting WISC-TV programming?

All cable and satellite providers other than Charter will continue to carry WISC-TV without interruption beyond the first of the year. You may also use an antenna to receive WISC-TV’s digital, high-definition signal over the air free of charge. If you’re interested in switching to another provider, here is a list of contact numbers and online locations:

DirecTV: 1-888-777-2454 or DirecTV.com

DISH: 1-888-926-5457 or dish.com

TDS (available in some areas): 1-866-571-6662 or TDStelecom.com

AT&T U-verse: 1-877-597-3136 or http://www.att.com/u-verse/explore/default.jsp

Q. How can WISC-TV charge Charter for its programming when it is free to over-the-air viewers?