Cable One, Nexstar Settle

Cable One Inc. and Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. have settled their year-long retransmission-consent dispute. The Phoenix-based cable operator will resume carrying Nexstar and Mission Broadcasting stations across its systems. Last year, Nexstar, which operates midsize and small-market stations, pulled its signal for NBC affiliate KSNF and ABC affiliate KODE Joplin, Mo.; NBC affiliate KTAL Shreveport, La.; and NBC affiliate KAMR Amarillo, Texas, off Cable One systems.

It is the third carriage dispute that Nexstar has settled in as many months. In October, the company reached a new deal with Cox Broadcasting to carry Nexstar’s analog and digital signals and any future multicast channels. The following month, Nexstar inked a new multiyear deal with Insight Communications to carry analog and digital signals in nine markets and offer local news on the cable company’s free video-on-demand platform.

Nexstar has taken a hard line in negotiations with cable operators, demanding that systems pay cash for the right to retransmit their broadcast stations. When cable operators resisted, Nexstar pulled its stations’ signals. Cable operators pay license fees to carry most cable networks but have been reluctant to pay direct cash for carriage of broadcast stations.

Financial terms of the Nexstar-Cable One deal were not disclosed. Nexstar COO Duane Lammers would not comment on specifics of the deal but said the company is being paid cash by cable operators in the majority of its deals. Major cable operators say that they have not – and have never – agreed to straight license fees. It is very common, however, for a cable system to agree to buy advertising on a broadcast station as part of the retransmission consent deal.  
But the Nexstar dispute did cause Cable One to be fined by the FCC.  In November, the commission handed down a $20,000 fine for “failure to provide” market protection to Nexstar Broadcasting-owned NBC affiliate KSNF in Miami, Okla., part of the Joplin, Texas, TV market. After Nexstar pulled its KSNF signal, Cable One customers in Miami, Okla., could still watch NBC because the cable operator was carrying Tulsa affiliate KJRH, and Nexstar petitioned the FCC, asserting the imported signal violated its market rights. The cable company can appeal the fine.