Cable One says it will drop New Orleans NBC affiliate WDSU from the channel lineup on the Mississippi Gulf Coast if they cannot come to a contract agreement by midnight Dec. 31.
Many Mississippi Gulf Coast Cable One television subscribers have noticed crawlers in recent days on the screen of some channels advising them of the situation.
“We’re currently in negotiations with Hearst Argyle Television for the right to retransmit WDSU (NBC) in Biloxi,” said Trish Niemann, national public relations officer for Cable One. “It’s our goal to come to a fair agreement with Hearst by the contract expiration date (midnight on Dec. 31), in order to avoid disruption to our customers.”
Cable One also offers the NBC network in its lineup via Mississippi Gulf Coast affiliate WXXV.
In recent years, Cable One has been rigorous in negotiating with local and national network affiliates for retransmission rights and subscribers may remember several similar incidents with other networks and affiliates.
Cable One has dropped some channels from its lineup over such negotiations in the past, including Comedy Central and the MLB Network.
WDSU is popular in the Mississippi Gulf Coast market not only because of New Orleans’ close proximity but also because of its weather reports and news coverage of the Saints and the New Orleans area.
Hearst Television and WDSU did not immediately return calls for comment.
“We’re committed to providing our customers with quality TV programming at a reasonable price, which is why we work hard to minimize costs on behalf of our customers by negotiating hard with local broadcasters to keep prices fair,” Niemann said. “Unfortunately, the retransmission consent fees that local broadcast TV stations charge Cable One to carry their channels have increased nearly 90 percent over the past three years – even though broadcast TV stations distribute their signals over the air, using spectrum granted to them for free by the federal government.
“We will continue to negotiate on behalf of our customers over the next two weeks with goal of keeping WDSU on the air.”