Cable One/Sparklight said its customers in the Springfield/Urbana, Illinois area lost access to three GoCom Media stations on Dec. 31 after retransmission consent talks broke down, adding that it is still in talks regarding two other nearby stations owned by Block Communications and Sinclair Broadcast Group.
GoCom owns Fox affiliate WSRP/WCCU in Springfield, as well as WBUI (The CW) in the same area. The stations are managed by Sinclair Broadcast Group, through a joint services/shared services agreement. The stations serve Cable One/Sparklight customers in Argenta, Auburn, Hoopeston, Moweaqua, Paris, Taylorville, Westville and surrounding communities.
Cable One rebranded as Sparklight in 2019 although it continues to operate under the Cable One corporate name.
"For the past several weeks we have been in negotiations with GoCom Media over programming fees and we have made every effort to reach a fair deal in order to keep rates reasonable for our customers,” Sparklight Division vice president Gary McDonald said in a press release, adding that the broadcaster demanded a nearly 100% rate increase and rejected its counter offer to pay a rate consistent with what Cable One is paying other stations.
“We share our customers’ frustration with GoCom Media for blocking access to their programming,” McDonald said. “We’re disappointed that GoCom has not accepted our proposal, which we consider more than fair. Sparklight has successfully negotiated for the carriage of hundreds of broadcast stations and we hope to do so with GoCom Media very soon.”
While the GoCom dispute rages, Cable One also has two other retrans deals in Illinois looming with Block Communications and Sinclair. The retrans agreement for the Block station -- WAND (NBC, Cozi TV) in Decatur -- expires on Jan. 7, while its deal to carry Sinclair’s Champaign/Urbana ABC affiliate (WICD/WICS) ends on Jan. 11. Cable One said on its website that it is in talks with both stations.
Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.
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