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CableOne, TV stations in dispute

A disagreement between CableOne and the company operating KVLY and KXJB may soon mean the loss of the stations' digital and high-definition TV programming.

A disagreement between CableOne and the company operating KVLY and KXJB may soon mean the loss of the stations' digital and high-definition TV programming.

Phoenix-based CableOne and Dallas-based Hoak Media Corp. are at odds over compensation.

The issue goes back to the Cable Act of 1992, which gave broadcasters the right to seek retransmission compensation from cable companies, said Charley Johnson, general manager of KVLY and KXJB.

"For a long time, broadcasters didn't work very hard at this," he said. "In the last couple of years, broadcasters have gotten a little more adamant about turning this around."

Looking at the top 100 TV shows, nearly all are from the four major broadcast networks, Johnson said. It's time for cable companies "to recognize the value that the broadcast channels bring to their system," he said.


Fargo CableOne General Manager Scott Geston said customers shouldn't be forced to pay for something provided to others for free.

"KXJB and KVLY transmit all of their signals over the air for free to people who have an antenna," he said.

"So what it boils down to is we believe that paying a local broadcaster for his signal is wrong and will lead to higher cable rates. Free TV should remain free TV. We have always included their signals in our packages at no additional charge," Geston said.

Johnson disagreed with the argument, saying customers should then be able to call CableOne and say they only want local channels via cable and for free.

"Basically they're using us to resell their packages. What broadcasters are asking for ... is a fraction of what they pay for some of the much lesser watched cable-only channels that they offer," Johnson said.

If the dispute isn't settled by Friday, CableOne digital customers will no longer receive digital and high-definition programming on Channels 460 and 465.

Programming shown on Channels 4 (CBS) and 11 (NBC) will continue.

Geston said it's difficult to say how many customers would be affected if an agreement isn't reached.


He estimated 15 percent of CableOne viewing households have some sort of high-definition tuner from the company. However, additional customers may have high-definition televisions and may not rent equipment from CableOne to receive those channels, he said.

"There's really no way for us to tell," Geston said.

Geston wasn't sure if the disagreement will be resolved by Friday, saying it's up to the parties who are negotiating.

"I hope we can get this resolved so it won't inconvenience our customers or their viewers," he said.

Johnson said he didn't "have a crystal ball" when asked if he thought the dispute would be settled by Friday. He said it's an issue occurring all over the country.

"I'm 100 percent behind our company's efforts to come to an agreement that fairly compensates all of the local broadcast stations for the value of the signal that we provide," Johnson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Teri Finneman at (701) 241-5560 CableOne, TV stations in dispute Teri Finneman 20080101

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