Another blackout is looming over failed retransmission consent negotiations. Subscribers of Cox Communications’ three cable systems in Connecticut could find themselves unable to watch LIN TV’s WTNH (ABC) and its sister station, WCTX (MyNetwork), on 3/14 if a new retrans agreement isn’t reached. The stations have already begun running announcements about their possible removal from the Cox line-up.
“We feel it is our duty to keep our viewers informed when a contract deadline approaches and a new agreement has not yet been reached,” Mark Higgins, general manager of the two stations, said in a written statement. “Our stations are important assets to the local community and we only want what is fair, so we can continue to serve our viewers. We are working hard to reach an agreement with Cox Communications before our contract expires.”
Dana Alexander Nolfe, a spokeswoman for Cox, told The New Haven Register they are “committed to keeping our customers connected to what they want most. It is our responsibility to ensure that they receive the best value from all of our entertainment and communications services. We do not believe that our customers should be burdened with excessive price increases for a station’s programming that is available for free, over-the-air and often online.”
Cox operates cable systems in the Enfield and Manchester area as well as in Meriden, which serves customers in Cheshire.
RBR-TVBR observation: With the latest news coming out of the FCC and Capitol Hill, expect all MVPDs to become empowered like never before in negotiations. The vote is days away and it’s not looking good. Watch the TV Broadcast stocks fall. It’s coming, thanks to Tom the Cable Guy. Meanwhile, we predict this deal will get done with no disruption in service. The game that MSO seem to be playing now is to get publicity for “possible looming disruptions”. Then they parade stories around the FCC and Capitol Hill that “greedy broadcasters” are “threatening blackouts”. Then, almost every time (with a few notable and well publicized exceptions) the deal actually gets done with no disruption of service. No harm, no foul. But the MSOs have achieved their goal of whipping up hysteria in Washington in hopes that Congress or the FCC will “fix a broken system.” But in fact the system is not really broken; this is a fair market negotiation involving something of value (local and network TV programming) that is being resold by another party (cable and other pay TV providers). The ultimate irony is that after a deal is successfully reached — without a disruption in service — the cable lawyers insist that the broadcaster not announce the successful deal. That way they can perpetuate the phony myth that the system is broken. So this deal will get done — successfully and with no disruption of service — but we may never hear about it.