WSB-Charter Dispute: What's the Situation?

The station may not be available to Charter cable TV viewers come Jan. 1.

Screenshot of WSB TV newscast. Credit: Vanzetta Evans
Screenshot of WSB TV newscast. Credit: Vanzetta Evans
By Patch Editor Steve Burns

The possibility that WSB-TV won't be available to Charter cable television viewers as of Jan. 1 is essentially governed by federal regulations.

Charter currently carries WSB in its lineup under a "retransmission consent" agreement that is outlined by the Federal Communications Commission. But that agreement is to expire on Dec. 31, and so the station could be dropped from the Charter lineup if no new deal is reached by then.

The situation between WSB and Charter came to light recently when the station began telling viewers on TV and in social media that Charter "may drop" WSB on Jan. 1, 2014. WSB still was alerting viewers to the situation via a "ticker" on morning news telecasts on Tuesday, Dec. 31.

Also, according to FCC regulations, local stations such as WSB can require that cable TV operators include them in their lineups under a "must carry" provision. However, the "must carry" provision can only be applied if the station so chooses, according to wikipedia.org.

WSB officials could not be reached for comment on the situation.

Charter Senior Director of Communications John R. Miller issued the following statement Monday to Patch:

"Charter has made the choice to focus on resolving terms of our agreement and negotiating in good faith – business to business. We have no comment on why Cox-owned WSB would choose to remove their signal from our customers during contract talks."

If WSB indeed is dropped from Charter's lineup, it would not be the first such blackout. According to wikipedia, in August 2013, Time Warner Cable and CBS reached an impasse in talks over retransmission fees. That forced a one-month blackout of CBS networks.

-- How do you feel about this situation? Tell us in the comments below.


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