RETRANS

3 Gray Stations Off Cox Cable Systems

With no new retransmission consent deal in place by deadline, Cox Communications subscribers today lost Gray Television’s WOWT Omaha, Neb. (NBC); KAKE Wichita, Kan. (ABC); and WIBW Topeka, Kan. (CBS).

Gray Television’s WOWT Omaha, Neb. (NBC); KAKE Wichita, Kan. (ABC); and WIBW Topeka, Kan. (CBS), this morning posted notices like this one on WOWT: “An important update on the situation between WOWT and Cox Communications: If you are a Cox Cable customer you are watching us through the wowt.com live stream right now or free over the air.

“Cox Cable has chosen to drop WOWT NBC Omaha from its lineup. Cox refused to reach a fair retransmission deal with WOWT. Gray Television, WOWT’s owner, has never had a major blackout with a provider.

“The terms we are seeking with Cox are fundamentally the same terms that have allowed us to reach deals with cable distributors nationwide. Because WOWT and Cox have not reached an agreement, your favorite programming on WOWT, including NFL playoffs this Saturday, the Golden Globes, The Blacklist, Super Bowl XLIX and local news, weather and sports are now not available on Cox Cable.”

A Cox Communications statement said: “Gray Television, the owner of local TV stations in some of the communities we serve, has blacked out their stations from you in an effort to get a 400% increase in the monthly fees that Cox Communications and our customers are already paying. See “Stations Affected” area below to learn if any of your local TV stations are affected by Gray’s unreasonable demands.

“Gray boasted in a recent article that they use their leverage as the owner of popular TV stations in many cities when it comes time to negotiate for large fee increases. For 2014, Gray is forecasted to take in $85 Million in these monthly fees alone, and this blackout is a way for them to help meet this goal. These fees are collected for programming that viewers can already see free over-the-air with an antenna. Gray’s decision to pull their programming from their viewers demonstrates that their demands for a higher fee trumps their obligation to their viewers, and shows how they try to get their viewers to pressure TV providers to obligate their viewers to pay more.

“Cox’s efforts to reach a fair and reasonable agreement with Gray will continue so that we may restore these stations as quickly as possible.”

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