Tuesday, December 2, 2008

WCYB "most likely" to be dropped from local cable lineup

My cable and Internet provider, TVS Cable, which serves several counties in Eastern Kentucky, recently notified its customers that it will "most likely" drop Tri-Cities TN/VA NBC affiliate WCYB (licensed to Bristol, VA) as of January 1, 2009. This is due to a retransmission consent dispute between WCYB's ownership (Bonten Media Group) and TVS. WCYB is asking TVS to pay cash to carry its signal. In the past, WCYB had not asked for a so-called "carriage charge." If negotiations fail, TVS will drop WCYB and replace it with a MyNetworkTV affiliate. However, NBC programming will not be affected because TVS will continue to carry WLEX in Lexington.

Under federal law, every three years each broadcast station must choose between "must-carry," which allows cable operators to broadcast local stations for free, or "retransmission consent," which forces cable systems to pay cash or ask for other considerations. In recent years, there have been standoffs between cable ops and broadcasters over the retransmission consent provision. One notable example is Time Warner Cable's decision to drop ABC stations from their lineups for a few days in 2000, during the May "sweeps".

TVS Cable serves counties in portions of three TV markets: Knott (its home base), Perry, Breathitt, Wolfe (in the Lexington market), Leslie, Letcher (in the Tri-Cities market), and Floyd (in the Charleston/Huntington, WV market). Recently, TVS has expanded its area to cover the entire city of Whitesburg, which was served by Comcast, which had more Tri-Cities stations on its lineup. Over the years, many Letcher Countians went to the Tri-Cities for shopping and other attractions, thanks in part due to advertising on Tri-Cities stations. However, that caused a loss of tax dollars from Kentucky businesses. With this potential drop of WCYB, I expect some consequences for Tri-Cities advertisers and local consumers.

But this dispute also shows that there is volatility in the Old Media sector. The major broadcast networks are losing viewers to cable networks, DVDs, video games, and the Internet. I have stated over the past few months on this blog that Old Media has showed a lack of balance in its news coverage and has lacked efforts to attract younger viewers to newscasts. That means advertisers, which are always looking to target the all-important 18-34 demographic, are moving away from newscasts. The result: Broadcasters are losing money.

I will post updates on this dispute as warranted. Your thoughts?

No comments:

Post a Comment