The CBS affiliate serving Madison, Wisc., is no longer accessible to AT&T U-Verse subscribers.
That’s thanks to a retransmission consent stalemate between the cable TV service provider and Morgan Murphy Media.
Viewer comments appearing on the TV station’s online advisory page are less than positive.
As of 7pm Central on Wednesday (1/8), WISC-3 — branded as “Channel 3000” by Morgan Murphy — went dark on U-Verse’s local lineup for Madison, as the retransmission fee agreement between the station owner and AT&T expired without a new deal in place.
In a statement, local management said WISC “remains committed to good faith negotiations on a new, fair agreement to provide its popular programming to viewers in southern Wisconsin.”
Noting that AT&T TV NOW and DirecTV customers aren’t impacted by the impasse, WISC added, “We understand this is frustrating for viewers and we are working to find a resolution as soon as possible … We, at WISC-TV continue to negotiate in good faith toward a fair deal.”
WISC also claims that “there is no dispute that WISC-TV is one of the most viewed channels” on U-Verse.” As such, Morgan Murphy’s station believes “what we are asking for is fair.”
It says, “Our request for fair compensation from AT&T U-VERSE is in the same range as all of the other agreements we have negotiated and entered into in the local market. What we are asking for is far below the rates AT&T U-VERSE pays to national cable channels which are far less popular than WISC-TV, have far fewer viewers, and provide no local news or community service.”
Further, WISC says, “We are willing to make a very fair deal with AT&T U-VERSE similar to agreements we have with its competitors. If both parties can continue to negotiate, a deal can be reached.”
But, WISC also warns that, should an agreement fail to materialize, “you may have to switch providers to continue watching us.”
Could a long impasse be a very real possibility? In a statement, AT&T said it asked Morgan Murphy to keep WISC available while a new business agreement was reached privately. But, AT&T claims, “Morgan Murphy refused and chose to withhold WISC instead.”
It also noted that Morgan Murphy “is known to withhold its stations to try to increase its fees for free broadcast TV.”
AT&T is likely referring to a January 2017 dispute that saw Morgan Murphy Media-owned KXLY-4 in Spokane, Wash., the ABC affiliate serving a region that includes Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, blacked out along with MeTV KXMN-9 to subscribers of Altice USA’s Suddenlink cable TV services in Idaho. According to Altice USA, Morgan Murphy made the move as it sought “a significant fee increase of over 75% more than its current rate.”
Altice USA said it “offered a fair market price to carry KXLY and asked its owners to keep its stations on our Idaho Suddenlink lineup while negotiations continue.”
For viewers, who is responsible for the loss of WISC on U-Verse is of no import: they simply are tired of losing a station they want to view.
Here we go again. Nobody cares about your private contract negotiations, said Jay Gee in a Facebook-fed comment appearing on WISC’s Channel3000.com
Glen Brewer wrote, So you stated that if the AT&T users want to view over the air they can. Well as a antenna user when is the tower going to be finished?
And then there’s Bard Arndt, who may be voicing what others are thinking in Madison.
Well guess we will watch channel 15 and 27 instead!