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KPHO Phoenix Retrans Negotiations Stalled With Cable One

Meredith's KPHO Phoenix said Wednesday that its retransmission consent negotiations with cable operator Cable One have stalled and that if a deal is not done by Dec. 31, the signal will be pulled from the cable system.

"In the event Cable One pulls the signal of KPHO CBS 5, Cable One customers will lose coverage of popular prime time shows such as CSI Miami, Survivor and Without a Trace; NFL playoff games and other popular sporting events," said the station in a release announcing the impasse.

While the release framed it as Cable One pulling the signal, a spokeswoman conceded that the station's exit from the system would be because Cable One no longer had permission from Meredith to carry the station.

It will be increasingly important for TV stations to widely publicize retrans impasses so that viewers are not confused and connect the absence of cable signals to the DTV transition. Or at least that confusion is the argument of cable operators who are seeking FCC help in establishing a moratorium of retrans-related signal pulling starting at the beginning of next year and extending to past the Feb. 17, 2009 DTV transition date. Broadcasters, instead, have suggested a four-week period immediately surrounding that date.

By law, cable operators are required to carry TV stations unless the stations elect to seek compensation in the form of cash or other consideration, a growing trend given that the top channels on cable systems are usually the local TV station's signal.

Meredith suggested that if the signal is pulled New Year's Day, cable subs can install an antenna or switch to satellite service. Satellite operators are not obligated to carry TV signals, but if they carry any in a market, they must carry all of them.