KFSM could go dark in NWA, Fort Smith area

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 236 views 

KFSM could go dark at midnight on April 30 for Cox Communications subscribers unless officials with Cox and Local TV LLC come to an agreement over how much Cox will pay to rebroadcast KFSM.

Federal law does not allow a cable company to carry programming without the consent of the company generating the content. In the case of KFSM, the content is owned by Newport, Ky.-based Local TV LLC, which owns or operates 21 broadcast stations in the U.S.

Without a deal, Cox will not be allowed to carry the signal of KFSM, KFOR (Oklahoma City), WDAF (Kansas City) and several other stations in the Cox service area. (Link here for the list of stations under the Local TV umbrella.)

Officials with Cox allege that Local TV is demanding a 300% increase in the fee to carry the signal.

“Local TV is holding its signals hostage by refusing to grant Cox permission to offer it unless we agree to pay 300% more than what we currently pay today,” noted a statement from Kim Rowell, vice president and market leader for Cox Arkansas. (See Rowell’s full statement below.)

In its statement, Cox provided this link to customers which explains how the KFSM signal can be picked up with an HD antenna.

Van Comer, president and general manager for KFSM TV-5 and KXNW TV-34, said the company is only seeking $1 per Cox subscriber per month.

“In regards to our COX negotiation involving KFSM, we are asking COX to pay us less than one dollar per month per subscriber. NOT an additional dollar, just a dollar, period. All other service providers have agreed to similar terms and only COX is threatening to remove KFSM from their lineup,” Comer noted in a statement. (See Comer’s full statement below.)

Technically, Cox could continue to carry the KFSM signal without an agreement. However, Comer noted that without an agreement, Local TV would not allow Cox to continue to carry the KFSM signal. Therefore, officials with Local TV control the decision to broadcast or go dark.

STATEMENT FROM COX COMMUNICATIONS
Dear Cox Customer:

We know you're concerned about the availability of KFSM (CBS affiliate) and KXNW (My Network TV affiliate) on Cox's cable lineup, and I want to reassure you that we're actively negotiating to continue offering it to our customers. Cox is fighting for you and trying to ensure we are able to continue offering KFSM and KXNW at fair and reasonable terms.

The dispute between Cox and Local TV, KFSM and KXNW's parent company, is all about how much you, the customer, should have to pay for the ability to see free over the air broadcast TV on your cable lineup. Local TV is holding its signals hostage by refusing to grant Cox permission to offer it unless we agree to pay 300% more than what we currently pay today. We don't think that's fair, especially in this economy. In fact, the signals of KFSM and KXNW and all other broadcast stations are available and can be received today with the use of an antenna. Digital TVs with a digital tuner (such as clear QAM TVs) can also tune directly to these signals when paired with an antenna.

We are hopeful we will conclude with a deal to keep Local TV's programming on Cox's lineups in the Arkansas communities we serve and continue bringing their signals to Cox customers. We will make sure to keep our customers apprised of the situation and continue to hope for a quick resolution that is reasonable for all parties, most importantly, our customers. For more information, visit Cox.com.

Thank you for being a Cox customer. We sincerely appreciate your business.

STATEMENT FROM KFSM
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to this information being sent by COX to its customers.  First, this negotiation only involves KFSM and not KXNW. COX already receives KXNW for FREE. In regards to our COX negotiation involving KFSM, we are asking COX to pay us less than one dollar per month per subscriber.  NOT an additional dollar, just a dollar, period. All other service providers have agreed to similar terms and only COX is threatening to remove KFSM from their lineup.

My bill from COX is over $180 per month. I will gladly pay three cents per day to receive KFSM. I think most subscribers would agree with those terms. That’s not an additional 3 cents, it is only 3 cents, period. It is misleading for COX to say KFSM is the reason they must charge such ridiculously high monthly fees. The simple truth behind their (COX) propaganda is that local TV stations take up bandwidth and COX wants that bandwidth for services they can more fully monetize.

A TV station is only as good as its programming and programming costs money. If a viewer will consider the value of KFSM’s programming in relation to how much they pay for other COX services, I think they will agree, local broadcasters like KFSM offer the best value and COX should stop being stubborn and sign the deal.

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