No word on how much CBS got for its signals, but the network says it has struck a carriage deal with the tiny Bay area municipal cable system/Utility Alameda (Calif.) Power & Telecom, which includes its digital multi-cast signals as well as full HDTV carriage.
The National Association of Broadcasters has been making some noise in D.C. lately about the importance of cable carrying its signals in HD, rather than downconverting them to save on capacity.
The deal means that KPIX and KBCW (The CW) will be available in HD. Alameda, which has 33,000 utility customers and rolled out cable service in 2001, already carries the stations in analog. Also part of the deal was carriage of CSTV, the college sports net CBS bought last year.
As other analog retransmission consent deals come due, look for CBS to generally ask for HDTV carriage as part of the new deals.
CBS Chief Les Moonves has told Wall Street that, going forward, the network expects to get paid for its signals, though the real battles will be with big cable operators when those deals come up for renewal.
NAB President David Rehr has been pitching the value of a broadcaster's content to cable, pointing out in a speech Wednesday, itself carried on cable's C-SPAN, that virtually all of the most-viewed TV shows are ones that originate on broadcast TV (200 of the top 200 in household viewership and 100 of the top 100 among viewers 18-49, the key sales demo).
Alameda will have to change one of the FAQ's on its Web site: "Why is KPIX (CBS) not available in high definition?"