San Diego Retrans Fight Ends After Four Hours

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SAN DIEGO, CALIF. — A potentially bruising fight between a CBS affiliate in America’s Finest City and one of America’s largest MSOs ended Friday afternoon (12/16), as the two parties resolved a retransmission battle that led to a 4 1/2-hour blackout of the station.


As the clock struck noon, Cox Communications cable customers in San Diego tuned to Midwest Television‘s KFMB-8 in San Diego saw their screen go dark.

The reason, according to Cox? Midwest TV demanded a 1,000 percent (or tenfold) increase in its retransmission fees; three-year contracts signed with the cable company expired at precisely that time.

Speaking with the San Diego Reader, Cox Communications Media/Public Relations Manager Ceanne Guerra directed Cox customers to obtain free over-the-air antennas from San Diego-area Cox stores in order to continue to receive the CBS affiliate.

She told the Reader, “They pulled their signal when we couldn’t reach agreement over the retransmission consent fees.”

Neither party discussed the newly prescribed fees. However, the issue is now moot.

At 4:30 p.m. Pacific on Feb. 16, Midwest Television announced without explanation that KFMB-8 was back on Cox’s San Diego systems.

“GREAT NEWS! Thank you for your patience and for your continued support of CBS 8 here in San Diego,” a brief statement appearing at CBS8.com reads. “We are pleased to announce that CBS 8 programming is now available on Cox Cable!”

This is the second tangle for KFMB-8 in two years regarding retransmission fees. In 2015, DirecTV subscribers went without the station for a three-week period.

Retransmission consent fees have become a major source of revenue for local television stations. Cable companies and DBS services such as DirecTV and DISH argue that this leads to price increases in its TV service packages, harming consumers as a result.


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Adam R Jacobson is a veteran radio industry journalist and advertising industry analyst with general, multicultural and Hispanic market expertise. From 1996 to 2006 he served as an editor at Radio & Records.