It seems just yesterday Cable ONE was crossing swords with Turner Broadcasting over retransmission rights. But in what must feel like a broken record for cable customers, the city's cable provider is once again threatened with losing retransmission rights amidst ongoing negotiations. And this time, it is a local programmer making the threats.
An agreement with KTEN NBC, ABC Texoma and CW Texoma will expire at midnight Tuesday. Should an agreement not be reached by that time, those channels will be taken off the air. Both Cable ONE and KTEN have followed the traditional game plans, posting their side of the situation and asking subscribers to call the other entity.
On KTEN's website, a message has been posted for subscribers stating Cable ONE charges subscribers to watch the three channels, but is unwilling to provide fair compensation for the channels. It asks the viewers to call Cable ONE and tell them a few pennies a day are fair.
Exactly what demands the programmer is making is uncertain. An attempt to clarify what exactly a few pennies entails as well as other details Friday was unsuccessful. Anthony Maisel, general manager, was not in the office. Fred Smith, assignments manager, said the station manager was the person who would need to answer the questions.
David Wall, Cable ONE general manager, said he was not able to discuss details of what the programmer is asking for.
"As always, it is about money," he said. "When you are in the middle of negotiating, you don't need to talk about details. We need to wait until the negotiations are finished. We are very optimistic we can come to an agreement by the end of the year."
A Cable ONE advertisement in today's paper is a little more forthcoming. Cable ONE says the three channels are demanding a triple-digit fee increase for the right to carry the stations, and says the demands are greedy. Cable ONE also says that if it gives into the demands, it may be forced to raise rates.
Unfortunately for subscribers, a rate increase is scheduled for economy and standard cable customers effective January.
Wall said the rates will increase $5 except for customers currently on a promotion. A pay rate increase would be effective for those customers at the end of the promotion. Wall said it is the first rate increase in three years
"We try not to pass on the increase, but at some point, you have to adjust the rate to provide quality programming," Wall said.
The stalemate with Turner Broadcasting lasted nearly a month, and was over a requested 50 percent increase. At the time, Wall said, "Our stance is we are very apologetic to our customers for the inconvenience. But you have to take a stance to protect the consumer rights."
In the dispute with Turner Broadcasting, subscribers lost a significant portion of the baseball playoffs. With the NFL playoffs looming, cable customers could once again be the biggest losers as the two entities try to come to terms.