Cox subs in Topeka could lose three channels by week's end

Yet another retransmission battle is brewing in America's heartland, this time between three TV channels controlled by KSN and its parent company LIN Media, and Cox Communications. The channels, KSNT-TV (NBC), KTMJ-TV (Fox) and KTKA (ABC) could go dark Friday if a new retrans agreement isn't reached. As always, money is the primary issue.

KSN has already alerted its viewers that the situation is becoming dire, including suggestions on how to contact Cox and satellite providers DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) and Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) and alternative wireline carrier AT&T (NYSE: T), according to a story in The Wichita Eagle.

"We feel it is our duty to keep our viewers informed when a contract deadline approaches and a new agreement has not yet been reached," KSN President-General Manager Eric Schrader told the newspaper via e-mail. "Our stations are important assets to the local community and we only want what is fair so we can continue to serve our viewers."

Cox, through a Wichita-based spokeswoman, said the service provider's goal is "to continue to provide to our customers the best programming at a reasonable process" and that Cox is "working very hard to come to an agreement with LIN."

According to the KSN website, the negotiations are coming down to what both sides consider a fair price for the stations' services.

"Despite our superior ratings and service to the community, we are compensated far less than many cable networks," KSN said in its site's Frequently Asked Questions section. "The bottom line is Cox profits by including broadcast stations like ours in its line-up. Like any other business, it should pair fair market value for the ability to resell our programming to you."

The Web item also answered a theoretical question of whether Cox would raise rates if a "fair agreement" is reached between the two entities.

"That is a decision made solely by Cox," the FAQ stated. "Remember, Cox already charges you to receive our local stations as part of your monthly bill. Cox also charges you for dozens of channels you have probably never seen and others you hardly watch at all."

For more:
- The Wichita Eagle carried this story
- the Topeka Capital Journal has this story
- and KSN placed this item on its website

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