Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Fort Smith AR / Fayetteville AR
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Cox - Hearst-Argyle Station Q&A
(as of 9/1/06)
Q: Which Hearst-Argyle stations are withdrawing their signals from Cox systems?
A: (Initially), the digital-only signals of KOCO, WDSU, KETV, KMBC, KHBS/KHOG, WESH and WKCF may be (have been) withdrawn.
Please note - the term withdrawing our signals may be a bit of a misnomer. We are simply asking for fair consideration from Cox in return for granting them permission to carry our digital signals, just as any sensibly managed provider of a valuable product or service would, in our position. We remain optimistic that we will reach agreement before the October 1 deadline.
Q: Are you demanding carriage of your multicast signals?
A: Hearst-Argyle is asking for carriage of its full digital broadcast signals. Currently, its digital broadcast signals consist of high-definition programming in most markets.
The digital stations WDSU-DT, New Orleans, and WESH-DT, Orlando, are also are streaming on their digital band the local weather service NBC Weather Plus (in addition to NBC high-definition (HD) programming), though these channels currently are not being carried on the local Cox systems.
We believe this is exactly the sort of high-value programming the FCC and the Congress expect responsible broadcasters to provide with the digital spectrum. Viewer response to Weather Plus, where it has been available over other cable systems, has been resoundingly positive. In Louisville, our CBS affiliate offered a multicast of the NCAA basketball tournament through an arrangement with a Louisville cable provider, again to very positive response.
Q: What kind of consideration are you seeking from Cox for carriage of your digital signals?
A: As a matter of policy, we (Hearst-Argyle) don't discuss terms of negotiations, especially in deference to MSOs, who have traditionally insisted on the inclusion of confidentiality clauses in any final agreements. Since we've been negotiating in good faith with Cox, we would not discuss the specific terms. We can say that we are asking for terms that are consistent with other agreements we have entered into with other distributors; they are reasonable, and reflect the value of the local Hearst-Argyle signal.
Q: Why now?
A: The business model for local television continues to evolve. Consumers want unfettered access to whatever TV programming they desire, regardless of time of day or day of week. And they continue to want local news and other local programming. Leading local TV stations, such as ours, now that they are digitally upgraded, are poised to provide additional local digital services to our communities.
But there has been significant cost involved with our getting to this stage. The expense of providing digital TV (DTV) to viewers has come at great expense to TV station owners - more than $2 million per station to upgrade digitally. For a cable provider to simply repackage our HDTV services and offer them to subscribers while offering us no financial consideration is unfair.
Q: Are you getting the same compensation for your digital signals from other distributors?
A: We are seeking no more from Cox than a fair and equitable agreement in line with our contracts with other distributors.
Q: Are you holding open the possibility of withdrawing your analog signals?
A: We are currently on a short-term extension and can not predict what the outcome will be. Obviously we are hopeful that both sides will reach a satisfactory resolution.
Q: Is this step with the HD signals a precursor to Hearst-Argyle pulling its stations' analog signals from Cox?
A: (Same answer as above)
Q: Is Lifetime negotiating your retransmission consent agreements this time?
A: Hearst-Argyle in the past has appointed Lifetime as its agent to negotiate various retransmission arrangements, but, currently, this is not a Lifetime Television programming negotiation.
Q: Isn't it true that Hearst-Argyle will not sign a retransmission agreement if Cox does not also sign a Lifetime and/or Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) contract?
A: It is not true. This is a negotiation between Hearst-Argyle and Cox.
Q: Is the problem that Hearst-Argyle is asking for dramatically more money?
A: Hearst-Argyle has a history of fair dealing and providing excellent value to its distribution partners. Due to the aforementioned confidentiality agreements related to various negotiations and prior transactions, we can not comment on specifics.
Q: By turning off your signal, aren't you simply hurting your customers?
A: Hearst-Argyle signals are available to all customers over-the-air; we have not turned off our signals.
However, broadcasters have the right under the law to negotiate for fair value with cable operators who re-distribute our signals and charge customers for it. We can not continue to provide the signals to a distributor who is unwilling to enter into a fair agreement with us. The consideration that we get from such agreements make us better able to re-invest in the programming, such as our leading local newscasts, that our viewers and the MSOs' subscribers have come to depend upon.
We have concluded such agreements with other cable operators. While we would like to continue to provide our signals, if we were to feel that Cox were taking advantage of our gesture of good faith and using it against us to avoid reaching an agreement, we would have to act in our best interests.
4029engineering consists of several engineers who are HDTV viewers just like you. Anything said in this forum is their own opinion and not necessairly official KHBS/KHOG policy.