Nexstar Broadcasting blamed Cox Communications for dropping 13 of its stations at midnight Friday.
“The action follows Cox’s refusal to reach a new distribution agreement allowing the cable television provider the right to continue to air the highly rated programming,” Nexstar said in a statement.
Broadcasters and cable operators are often criticized when an impass in retransmission consent agreement talks result in blacking out programming for cable subscribers. But Nexstar said there is “no such thing as a blackout in today's world. Any viewer with a digital TV and antenna can watch television -- for free. It's only when MVPDs choose to stop transmission that consumers get harmed. Broadcasts are always on.”
Cox said in a statement the stations were removed from the lineup, adding “Nexstar has not changed its offer in two weeks and is still demanding three times more for its free over-the-air stations.”
In its statement, Nexstar said it “deeply regrets Cox’s ill-advised action which deprives viewers in the affected markets of broadcasts of leading network content from ABC, CBS, Fox , NBC, CW and MyNetworkTV as well as local news and other programming produced specifically for these local communities. Viewers affected by the loss of service from Cox have several alternatives to continue watching their favorite shows including other local cable providers, Dish, DirectTV, over-the-air, and services including Verizon’s FIOS and AT&T U-verse.”
Nexstar claimed that blackouts are much more common for Cox than for Nexstar.
Nexstar is in the process of buying Media General and its TV stations. A loud and disruptive blackout could affect how regulators view the transaction. Cox has already urged the FCC to reject the deal.