LIN Media, Cox Communications heading toward blackout


The deadline for a new contract between LIN Media broadcast television stations and Cox Communications cable systems is 3/31/11. If a new agreement for retransmission fees is not reached by then, LIN has told its viewers that its stations will no longer be available on Cox’s system.

LIN television stations are using their websites to alert viewers to the situation and informing them of options for getting the stations should the two parties fail to reach an agreement.

This is the latest altercation of retransmission fees between broadcast and MVPD interest, but it will be far from the biggest. According to RBR-TVBR research, it affects nine stations in five markets. One of the stations – Fox WNAC in Providence-New Bedford —  is owned by another company but receives services from LIN.

There are the affected stations:

* Mobile AL-Pensacola FL: Fox WALA, CW WFNA

* Hartford-New Haven CT: ABC WTNH, MNT WCTX

* Springfield MA: NBC WWLP

* Providence RI-New Bedford MA: CBS WPRI, Fox WNAC

* Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News VA: NBC WAVY, Fox WVBT

RBR-TVBR observation: Interesting position for Cox. It’s trying to argue that LIN’s programming is available free over the air and if viewers don’t have to pay to get it that way, LIN shouldn’t expect much more for the stations on an MVPD. We wonder if that’s how the management of Cox’s 15 broadcast television stations will see it when it is their turn to negotiate retransmission fees?