Wednesday, September 06, 2006

KHBS-KHOG’S Digital Signal Carriage May Be Discontinued On Cox System

Source: KHBS-KHOG-TV KHBS-KHOG-TV (Channels 40/29) and KHBS-KHOG-DT (Channels 15/21), the Fort Smith-Fayetteville-Springdale-Roger’s leading analog and digital television stations, respectively, today announced that the digital high definition signal of KHBS-KHOG-DT may no longer be carried on Cox cable television systems effective October 1, 2006, if the parties are unable to conclude retransmission-consent negotiations currently underway.

The removal of the station’s digital signals from the Cox system will only result if negotiations between representatives of Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc., KHBS-KHOG TV’s parent company, and Cox are unsuccessful in reaching a conclusion before October 1, 2006. Hearst-Argyle is seeking fair and reasonable terms from Cox in return for allowing Cox to carry KHBS-KHOG-DT’s programming and charge its subscribers for that programming. So as not to inconvenience a large number of its viewers, Hearst-Argyle currently anticipates that it will allow Cox to continue to retransmit KHBS-KHOG-TV’s primary analog signal while the companies continue to work in good faith toward a resolution of retransmission consent terms. Hearst-Argyle will decline to permit Cox, however, also to carry KHBS-KHOG-DT’s valuable high-definition digital programming if Cox refuses to complete a long-term contract governing the carriage of it.

“We’re greatly disappointed that Cox has yet to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution,” said Jim Prestwood, KHBS-KHOG-TV/DT president and general manager. “Our station is a leader in our market and we’ve made substantial investments to bring our viewers high definition digital programming. Cox has been actively promoting to current and prospective subscribers the addition of our digital channel to its lineup, and charging its subscribers a premium for our high-definition signals. We’re certainly supportive of their adding and promoting our high-definition programming. But they won’t come to terms with us on providing fair consideration for that right. To allow any re-distributor of our station’s digital signal to benefit economically from our efforts without providing us a reasonable contract for that right would be unacceptable for us.” “We sincerely hope we and Cox can conclude our negotiations before October 1 so as not to deprive any of our respective viewers and customers of high definition programming,” Prestwood added.

40 Comments:

At 10:46 PM, September 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

KHBS...putting the BS back in tv.

Cox doesn't have anything to lose, if anything KHBS will lose viewers. Maybe Cox will drop both the digital and the analog from the lineup and just provide KTUL for ABC programming. Wouldn't that be a hoot.

 
At 1:24 AM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sure would be a hoot!

 
At 2:47 AM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet KTUL has no problem providing their analog and digital signals free of charge. I know their analog signal is good in NWA....is KTUL-DT strong enough to be used by those cable systems?

 
At 2:55 AM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think 40/29 has the bargaining power here they think they do. Like you said, KTUL (Tulsa), KODE (Joplin), and KSPR (Springfield) probably all have usable DT signals in that area and would be glad to provide them free of charge.

I can't see Cox dropping 40/29 on the analog side...but I don't think they'll give an inch to 40/29 in DT negotiations because they can easily use another station.

 
At 7:34 AM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cox probably realizes that not retransmitting KHBS-DT is for the public good. :-)

 
At 10:48 AM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work for the competition, but I'm behind them 100% on this. Cable companies pay everyone else for their services, they absolutely should pay KHBS/KOHG for using their digital signal.

Cox SELLS digital channels to their subscribers. What's wrong with them paying for the service they are selling? The cable company makes a fortune on local broadcast signals.

I hope Hearst sticks to their guns on this one.

 
At 10:49 AM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, typo... KHOG

 
At 12:38 PM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did Nexstar buy 40/29? Don't answer that! For once Nexstar did lead the way.

 
At 1:15 PM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ashley Beck was hanging around area 51 in Fort Smith late one night, and let me say, she was very revealing, nice set on her!

 
At 1:19 PM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cox has been actively promoting to current and prospective subscribers the addition of our digital channel to its lineup, and charging its subscribers a premium for our high-definition signals.

This is hogwash - Khog wash. Cox does NOT charge extra for the HD version of KHOG/KHBS. All you need is a digital cable ready tv or you can buy a digital ready set top box at retail or rent one from cox. The rental is for the box, but the HD is not a premium ch and is unencrypted.

 
At 1:22 PM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Untrue. The HD tier does cost more.

 
At 1:24 PM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NAB lobbyists have gotten all the rules in their favor.

They can force cable and sat companies to carry their signal for free.

Or they can force them to pay for it if they want to.

 
At 2:42 PM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with 2:55....too many other ABC outlets that would make their DT available for free. Cox shouldn't pay a dime!

 
At 8:53 PM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a case of the cable companies being spoiled brats. Dish and Direct TV have to pay to rebroadcast...it's only fair cable stations should pay something for rebroadcasting as well.
Affilitates aren't getting money from the networks to run their programming anymore. ALL stations lost that revenue gradually over the years. If you use the copyright, you should negotiate to pay for it.
Stations in Joplin and Springfield...and not just NEXTAR stations have already fought this battle and won.

 
At 8:57 PM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Duh said...

This was all started when COX decided they wanted Charles Salser back.

 
At 9:16 PM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right, It's September and we're getting closer to "WINTER STORM!!!" season.

 
At 9:47 PM, September 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much mud slinging as KHBS/KHOG threw at KNWA about the chance they were coming off cable it will be interesting to see if they come back at them. What about KFSM? They have been pretty quite while Nexstar and now Hearst pick fights with Cox.

 
At 12:26 AM, September 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again I ask....why should Cox pay a dime to 40/29 when there are nearby ABC affiliates that would provide DT programming for free??

It's easy...leave 40/29's analog signal on the system for those who want to watch them! For everyone else who mostly cares about ABC programming in DT...give them KTUL, KODE, or KSPR in HDTV.

What's there to argue about??

 
At 11:44 AM, September 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you ask:
"Again I ask....why should Cox pay a dime to 40/29 when there are nearby ABC affiliates that would provide DT programming for free??"

It's not that simple. KHOG has the exclusive right to broadcast ABC programming in its market. Just because they're not on a cable system, that doesn't mean another ABC affiliate can come in and pick up the slack.

 
At 4:25 PM, September 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: "Our station is a leader in our market..."

Thoughts? Opinions?

 
At 9:50 PM, September 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They put that on job listings too. Saying: "We're the strong #2" just doesn't sounds right.

I guess they could say "We're the leader in Northwest Arkansas" Because they're beating KFSM there, and 3rd place KNWA.

 
At 11:37 PM, September 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"KHOG has the exclusive right to broadcast ABC programming in its market."

THEY WISH!

Both KTUL and KODE are common on Northwest Arkansas cable systems. KSPR and KATV are available on a few systems. KHOG made a deal with the local cable systems back in 1993 (the last time we had a big right over retransmission fees) that the systems could carry KHOG free of charge provided they would blackout other ABC affiliates during duplicate programming. That deal was not FCC mandated. It was a deal between KHOG and the cable. KHBS tried something similar in Fort Smith...but the cable system there stood their ground and KTUL runs full-time alongside KHBS.

There are three basic reasons why KHBS/KHOG cannot dictate our access to ABC.

1. Off-air availability of other affiliates. KTUL is available off air in most of the market. KODE is easily receivable in Benton County. KSPR is available in Carroll, Madison, and Newton counties, and KATV is available on hilltops.:)

What's 40/29 gonna do....jam the signals??

2. The Fort Smith/Fayetteville market isn't big enough for FCC mandated network exclusivity. All agreements keeping other affiliates out and/or limiting viewers access to their signals are entirely private between ABC and 40/29...and between 40/29 and the cable/dish companies. Those agreements can be terminated AT ANY TIME if the best interests of ABC and the cable companies are compromised. ABC WILL NEVER ALLOW 40/29 TO LIMIT NORTHWEST ARKANSAS'S VIEWERS ACCESS TO BOTH ABC ANALOG AND ABC-DT.

3. The principle of public interest. The viewers have the right to demand access to additional ABC affiliates on the cable/dish systems if it's in the best interests of a large number of people...and they will win.

KTUL has a LONG history and significant popularity in this market...particularly with NWA once being in the Tulsa DMA. There was also a period where NWA was in the Joplin DMA...so KODE and the other stations have viewers...particularly in Benton County.

If 40/29 doesn't serve the public interest by playing hardball with its signals...then not only will their private agreements with ABC and cable/dish companies be challenged...but their FCC license can be challenged as well.

Bottom line: If 40/29 doesn't give in and allow both analog and HD signals to be retransmitted at will....then they will end up on the short end for one or more of the three reasons I described above.

 
At 11:55 PM, September 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect to the previous poster- it really comes down to this.

It's bad business from a public relations standpoint to try and tell viewers they HAVE to watch their station. 40/29's approach should be to market themselves in such a way to cause people to want to watch them. That includes not limiting access to their signals by whatever means the viewer wants to receive them- off air, cable, or satellite.

It also means allowing freedom of choice. We all know the VAST MAJORITY of people in Western Arkansas will choose 40/29 for their ABC programming. But, those who want to watch ABC on another station deserve the freedom to make that choice! When 40/29 or any other station takes steps to limit that choice- it really turns people off....even those who could care less. It's just bad PR.

 
At 12:00 AM, September 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dish companies pay the stations specifically to defray the costs of uplinking, not for retransmission. Very important to distinguish.

NO CABLE OR DISH COMPANY IS PAYING CASH TO A LOCAL STATION FOR RETRANSMISSION, AND THEY WILL NEVER AGREE TO THAT BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE TO.

 
At 5:55 PM, September 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have come to the conclusion that there are way too many news junkies in the world with opinions that don't matter. Not only do the most of you not know anything about running tv stations but all you can do is bitch and moan about your job, paycheck, boss, co-worker or the media outlet of which pays your bills. Put a smile on your face and take pride in what you do or get the hell out of the business.

p.s. See you at the weigh station, exit 134 with a hot cup of coffee.

 
At 8:24 AM, September 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an issue that is near to my heart. That is, the right to watch the station you want to watch! I hope the FCC comes around one day and ends network exclusivity and blackouts and all that. IF you wanna watch KHOG, or KTUL, or any other ABC station, that should be your choice!

 
At 8:24 AM, September 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

vkmThis is an issue that is near to my heart. That is, the right to watch the station you want to watch! I hope the FCC comes around one day and ends network exclusivity and blackouts and all that. IF you wanna watch KHOG, or KTUL, or any other ABC station, that should be your choice!

 
At 8:38 AM, September 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one comment to add to one of the above postings: KTUL may once have had significant viewership in the market, but it has long since vanished. They barely show in the time period sections of the book.

 
At 9:55 PM, September 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:38- no argument there. But, you wait till one of the cable systems that's carried KTUL for 50 years tries to yank them!! You'll hear some fussing.

This market is growing and growing, and the time very well may come when we lose network affiliates from Tulsa, Springfield, and other areas that cable systems have always carried.

Mark my words....there will be lots of calls to the ol' cable company!

 
At 10:14 PM, September 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Tulsa media...Tulsa World newspaper, KTUL, KOTV, etc....has a shrinking influence in Northwest Arkansas....but they definetly still have their crowd. I know they are still very popular in the border towns like Siloam Springs, Gravette, Lincoln, etc....basically areas west of the big 4 (Fay, Spr, Rgr, Bent.).

I just don't think they've been totally run out of town.

 
At 10:25 PM, September 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three main factors driving KTUL's numbers down here:

1. Growth of local market- Tulsa used to be the big town nearby that had everything we didn't (including decent local news). That's not so much the case anymore. The less people have to do with Tulsa, the less interested they are in what's going on there.

2. Dish companies- We only get Northwest Arkansas network affiliates on the dish, so more and more people are losing easy access to Tulsa stations.

3. KTUL's news product isn't as good as it used to be. They haven't been a consistent number one in Tulsa County in several years now, and their dominance in rural areas is shrinking. KOTV is the best Tulsa station for local news, but they don't have near the cable penetration KTUL has in our area.

 
At 7:18 AM, September 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearing a few misconceptions:

KSPR has a limited digital OTA signal and no HD.

KODE has a limited digital OTA signal and no HD.

KTUL has HD, but has limited power much like their sister station down in Little Rock.

Digital signal coverage: Not always equal to the analog for many stations.

The KHOG wash from Hearst-Argyle are the same extortion tactics Nex$tar used a few years ago with KTAL and KSNJ/KODE (LMA from Mission)

Cablecos are *always* looking to raise rates.

As old school as the outdoor antenna is, sometimes they are nice to keep around for certain situations (getting adjacent market stations within reach, or HDTV OTA).

I'll take my Dish and OTA antenna anyday over being screwed by cable ops and greedy local broadcasters.

 
At 8:18 AM, September 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really don't understand how expecting someone to pay us when they re-sell our copyrighted signal is "greedy."

If they gave it away for free, no big deal. But they don't.

If they pay for ESPN, Lifetime, the Turner stations, etc., they can surely pay the local affiliates? Television's stand on this point originates from the networks' deciding to end comp for local affiliates. Stations used to receive money directly from ABC, CBS and NBC to help defray the cost of news-gathering, etc. This equaled millions of dollars. The networks ended the practice over the last couple of years and stations are now having to make up the shortfall while trying to maintain their profit margins in a very Wall Street driven world.

Since television stations helped cable companies succeed by providing them highly watched programming for free for many years, many are now opting to ask cable companies (which are definitely more than on their feet) to begin paying minimal amounts for carrying their signals.

I think this is more than reasonable. Cable systems have benefited from free programming from their local affiliates for decades.

 
At 8:49 AM, September 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Untrue. The HD tier does cost more."

The above is a khog lie.

By law all local broadcast HD channels must be unencrypted and in the clear on all cable systems that carry them.

Cox, et al can charge for an HD set top box. But any new "digital cable ready" (aka "DCR") TV doesn't need a set top box, and will get the local HD channels FREE if connected to basic cable.

 
At 9:02 AM, September 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that is true. i get local hdtv chs on my 32" digital tv i bought at walmart. all i did was connect it to cox cable and i only have analog basic.

 
At 4:05 PM, September 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:18- I understand your point, but I don't think you're in a position to "demand" that payment. Here's the shakedown:

Cable doesn't pay....you make them drop your signal....they still have KTUL for ABC programming and will consider previous agreements to blackout during duplicate programming null and void, WHICH THEY CAN and will do....few if any will drop the cable....40/29's diehards will break out the old rabbit ears, but many more will just watch KFSM or KFAA for local news....causing ratings to drop...which will cause 40/29 to consent to retransmission..

So there ya go! Any questions?:)

 
At 4:22 PM, September 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous poster- I think the local stations need the cable and dish companies more than they need them.

 
At 6:14 PM, September 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except that 40/29 is not planning to pull their analog signal from cable. They are only talking about the HD service.

The most viewed channels on cable systems are the local affiliates.

 
At 11:51 PM, September 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:14- Well, Cox may choose an all or none policy? Analog AND HD consent, or neither! I'm telling ya....Cox will win this battle....not because they necessarily are in the right....they just hold the trump card at the end of the day.

 
At 11:56 PM, September 16, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If cable companies have to compensate free over-the-broadcasters to carry their signals, should the makers of TV antennas pay also? Remember, cable TV began in 1948 as a service for communities where reception was difficult if not impossible. Broadcasters should be thankful to be carried. By the way, I work for a broadcaster.

 

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