Allbritton, Cox declare truce

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At press time Friday, Allbritton Communications Co. and Cox Communications
Inc. of Fairfax, Va., had agreed to keep talking.

This means Allbritton's WJLA-TV Washington, D.C., and NewsChannel 8 cable
news service would remain on the Cox system for at least the next 30 days while
they continue to try to hammer out a retransmission-consent deal.

The move came after an escalating war of words that included Allbritton's
assertion that Cox could be subject to theft-of-signal and copyright claims, as
well as Federal Communications Commission sanctions, if it continued to carry
WJLA-TV on its Fairfax County, Va., system after its retransmission agreement
ended Saturday night.

Cox had countered that Allbritton could not legally stop the signals because
Allbritton did not provide sufficient notice -- a contention the broadcaster
disputed.

Cable-system general manager Gary McCollum proposed professional mediation to
help resolve the impasse, but Allbritton negotiators said they'd been told that
an agreement was close Tuesday, but hadn't heard since.

Meanwhile, both parties courted viewer favor with messages outlining their
positions and suggestions that viewers contact the other to protest the
possibility of Fairfax County's 240,000 cable homes losing ABC programming, as
well as the local cable news channel.

Allbritton contended that Cox has refused the same deal accepted by the
area's dominant cable carrier, Comcast Corp.

Cox countered that it's not looking for special treatment and said Allbritton
is requiring a 'long-term, onerous agreement with inflated rates to carry
NewsChannel 8.'

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