Nearly a week after the Binghamton Fox affiliate vanished from the local cable television system, there are no signs of progress in resolving the business dispute.

Charter Communications - which owns Spectrum Cable - and Northwest Broadcasting - which owns WICZ-TV - are locked in a battle over programming fees.

FOX 40 and My8 disappeared from the Spectrum line-up last Friday. The channels have been replaced by a statement asserting Northwest is "demanding huge fee increases."

Northwest Broadcasting president and CEO Brian Brady said negotiations with Charter Communications began last June. When the existing contract expired last week, an agreement on a new deal had not been reached.

Brady said he was shocked when Northwest's channels in several markets were pulled from Spectrum systems late last week. He said "we were caught completely off guard."

Brady said Spectrum "forcefully took us down to cause this disruption to create leverage on us."

Speaking on WNBF Radio's Binghamton Now program, Brady declined to discuss the fee increase Northwest had been seeking in its latest proposal to Charter.

In response to an interview request, Andrew Russell, Charter's regional director of communications, replied that a company representative won't be available.

Russell provided a statement indicating Spectrum is "fighting to keep costs down for our customers." The statement said the company refuses "to pay the huge fee increase they are demanding."

A portion of the message now appearing on Spectrum Cable systems on channels normally occupied by Northwest Broadcasting TV stations. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)

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