KETV-TV, the ABC affiliate in Omaha, Neb., pulled KETV-DT Channel 20 this week from Cox Cable after several weeks of fruitless negotiations. While the broadcaster said in a statement that Cox was justifiably planning to charge a separate fee to its subscribers for accessing HD content, the Hearst-Argyle station voiced dissatisfaction with the undisclosed amount the cable firm was willing to pay to carry KETV-DT.
The broadcaster said, "so as not to inconvenience a large number of its viewers, Hearst-Argyle will allow Cox to continue to retransmit KETV-TV's primary analog signal while the companies continue to work in good faith toward a resolution of retransmission consent terms."
KETV said it has made "substantial investments" to bring its viewers valued HD programming, and that "Cox has been actively promoting to current and prospective subscribers the addition of our digital channel to its lineup, for an additional monthly fee, and we're certainly supportive of that. But they won't come to terms with us on providing fair consideration for that right."
Meanwhile, Cox spokeswoman Stephanie Davis said Hearst-Argyle "is demanding exorbitant fees for the hi-def signal, which everyone in the community can access for free over-air. We continue to try and negotiate for a fair agreement for the carriage of KETV in high definition, but we have to take a stand against fee demands which would certainly be passed along to our customers and raise their monthly cable bills."
Davis said that Hearst-Argyle "received broadcast spectrum free from the government; it's unfair that cable customers should have to pay for the signal they deliver on that spectrum. Hearst-Argyle has refused to accept a fair agreement that is beneficial to both parties, our customers and their viewers."
KETV is advising viewers that it can access HD content on KETV-DT the old fashioned way for now--with a tuner and an antenna.
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