A monthlong blackout of Northwest Broadcasting-owned affiliates on Cable One has ended, with the two sides agreeing on a new retrans deal.
The agreement will restore affiliates in Idaho, Mississippi and Cleveland on the MSO. Terms of the deal were not announced.
“Our goal is to provide our customers and their families with quality TV programming,” said Cable One VP John Gosch in a statement. “We’re pleased to restore these channels to our customers, and we appreciate their patience and loyalty while we worked to reach an agreement.”
The agreement also prevents Cable One subscribers in Greenville/Greenwood, Mississippi, and Spokane, Washington, from being blacked out of FOX’s presentation of Super Bowl LI Sunday.
Amid the kerfuffle, Cable One Senior VP of Operations Charles McDonald penned an op-ed on Morning Consult asking Congress to “repeal and replace” laws regulating broadcast retransmission licensing.
“Enough is enough. Congress needs to embrace reforms that expose retransmission consent to real market forces,” McDonald said. “Otherwise, harmful blackouts will continue to rise and the price for ‘free TV’ will go nowhere but up.”
McDonald’s attempt to further politicize the retrans issue comes amid a transition of power at the FCC, with Republican Ajit Pai taking over as chairman from Tom Wheeler.
“Although Federal Communications Commission rules generally limit ownership to one or two stations per market, somehow Northwest Broadcasting has gained control of all Big 4 network feeds in these small Mississippi markets,” McDonald said.
“Broadcasting and pay-TV providers are legally required to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith,” he added. "Since the start of 2017, however, TV stations have initiated 75 blackouts—that’s more than the combined number of blackouts to start 2016 (14), 2015 (26) and 2014 (5). Four million households in 25 states and 46 markets have been victimized by dark TV screens just days into the new year.”