Comcast-WPIX Blackout Over in New York Market

PIX 11 logo
(Image credit: WPIX-TV)

WPIX New York is again available to Comcast subscribers in that market ,after a blackout that began December 4 when Comcast’s retransmission-consent agreement with WPIX expired.

The station is owned by Mission Broadcasting, which acquired it from E.W. Scripps in 2020. Nexstar Media Group sold the station to Scripps after acquiring Tribune Broadcasting in order to get under the government's station ownership cap. 

Nexstar operates WPIX under a local management agreement.

“I am happy for our loyal PIX11 viewers,” Mission president Dennis Thatcher said.

Also: Nexstar and Comcast Reach Agreement To Avoid Blackout

Nexstar and Comcast may be heading towards a bigger showdown. Nexstar’s retransmission for the bulk of its stations with the nation’s largest cable operator expires at the end of the year.

Nexstar has been warning viewers that a blackout of those stations is possible.

On the website of WGN-TV, the Nexstar station in Chicago, Nexstar said “if a new agreement is not reached, Comcast might remove WGN-TV from your schedule. WGN-TV has presented a proposal for fair value, based on the importance and value our programming brings our viewers. Despite our tireless efforts, Comcast has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult. Our offer is fair. And now they may hold you the subscriber hostage. It’s not right.” 

Nexstar and Comcast have been feuding over the ownership of WPIX for a year. Comcast filed a petition in 2021 asking the FCC to rule that Nexstar is the owner of the station, calling its management agreement with Mission a sham designed to evade the ownership cap rules.

Because Nexstar doesn’t own another station in the New York market, it is allowed to negotiate retransmission on behalf of the owners.

Nexstar sued Comcast claiming breach of contract and said Comcast had failed to pay millions of dollars in retransmission consent fees. 

“Our recent retransmission consent agreement with Nexstar settles the pending litigation our companies have in the Southern District of New York.  However, it does not address our proceedings at the FCC, which remain open," according to a Comcast spokesperson. ■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.