Hearst Stations Including WESH Orlando Dark on Cox as Hurricane Nears

UPDATE: Hours after releasing contentious statements, Cox and Hearst strike retrans deal.

Unable to reach a new carriage deal with Cox Communications, Hearst Television Tuesday night pulled stations off the cable platform in markets around the country – including Orlando, Fla., which is bracing for Hurricane Irma.

In their respective statements, Cox and Hearst hold one another accountable for the impasse, which occurred upon expiration of an extension that kept Hearst stations on the platform for five days past the original deadline.

Cox said Hearst pulled its signal “because we would not agree to pay double the price we currently pay,” and refused the company’s offer to extend the most recent deal for an additional two weeks while negotiations continue.

Hearst, however, said Cox refused its offer of an additional three-day extension, which would have given the group time to warn subscribers of a potential impasse.

“We are disappointed that Cox has refused our customary offer to extend our agreement, especially during this period of severe weather,” said Hearst Television president Jordan Wertlieb.  “As a local broadcaster, we are keenly aware of the importance of serving our local viewers during times like these.”

Hearst stations are still available on other platforms and over-the-air.

However, the American Television Alliance, an advocacy organization whose members include cable and satellite companies, criticized Hearst for pulling its Orlando NBC affiliate, WESH, off Cox’s platform as Irma heads toward Florida. The ATA called on Hearst to restore its signals to Cox subscribers in affected markets.