Nexstar blacks out Cox

Nexstar Broadcasting Group has blacked out nine network affiliates on Cox Communications after the two sides failed to come to agreement on broadcast retransmission licensing.

The affected markets include Las Vegas; Phoenix; Baton Rouge and Acadiana, LA; Pittsburg, Kan.; Roanoke, Va.; Ft. Smith and Springdale, Ark.; and Florida's Gulf Coast. 

"After months of negotiating, Nexstar has decided to remove their channels from the Cox line up, becoming the latest station owner to rely on retransmission fees in an effort to boost their bottom line," said Cox, in a statement. 

"Nexstar has not changed their offer in two weeks and is still demanding three times more for its free over-the-air stations for Cox customers," Cox added. "This comes on the heels of announcing a $4.6 billion deal to acquire Media General, raising the specter that they are using retransmission fees to fund these deals. Cox is ready to negotiate at any time."

The nine stations include a number of CBS affiliates, including KLAS-TV in Las Vegas. CBS will host the Super Bowl on Sunday.

The blackout comes after Nexstar accused Cox of making "mischaracterizations" of the station owner and threatened it with a cease and desist order on making future comments.

Earlier, Cox publicly asked federal regulators to reject Nexstar's $4.6 billion acquisition of Media General. Previous to Cox's statement, Nexstar had given Cox through the end of Jan. 29 to carve out a renewal to an expiring retrans contract, otherwise it said it would black out nine network affiliates on the MSO. 

Referring to Cox's announcement, a Nexstar statement said: "Cox mistakenly claims in today's release that, 'Cable TV/Satellite customers [will be] forced to pay more with the Nexstar merger.' In fact, the reason that Cox unilaterally raises the rates to its subscribers is related to the gross mis-allocation by Cox of its programming fee payments to programming with marginal viewership relative to the network and local community programming that Nexstar provides."

For more:
- read this Deadline Hollywood story

Related articles:
Nexstar lashes out against Cox in increasingly ugly retrans battle
Nexstar wins fight for Media General, agrees to pay $4.6 billion to create mega-broadcaster
Cox faces 9-market blackout on Nexstar stations