Four Gray TV Stations Dark on Cox Systems

Cox Communications customers in Florida, Nebraska and Kansas could miss some of the National Football League playoffs this weekend if a blackout of four television stations owned by Gray TV holds through the weekend.

Gray stations WECP (CBS) in Panama, Fla., WOWT (NBC) in Omaha, Neb., KAKE (ABC) in Wichita, Kan., and WIBW (CBS) in Topeka went dark to Cox customers on Jan. 6 after the parties failed to reach a retransmission consent agreement.

The deal originally was scheduled to expire on Jan.1, but Gray, sensing that an agreement was near, extended the carriage pact to Jan. 6.  But as the new deadline approached, both sides were far apart on price.

“We have been diligently negotiating with Cox Communications to reach a fair deal,” Gray TV said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Cox Communications has refused to reach a fair deal with us.”

Gray TV added that the terms it was seeking from Cox were “fundamentally the same terms that have allowed us to reach deals with distributors nationwide.” Gray added that it has never had a major blackout with a provider.

Cox claims that Gray is asking for price increases as much as 400% for what it characterizes as programming that is already available free-to-air. Cox said in a statement that it is actively negotiating to get the channels back at a reasonable price.  

If a deal isn’t reached soon, Cox customers in those areas could miss the AFC Divisional Playoffs, with the first round pitting the Baltimore Ravens against the New England Patriots on NBC at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 10, followed by the Indianapolis Colts vs. the Denver Broncos at 7 p.m. on CBS Jan. 11.