Meredith, Cable One at Retrans Impasse in Phoenix

According to Meredith Communications, retransmission consent negotiations with Cable One in Phoenix have stalled. 

“Despite our best efforts to come to an agreement with Cable One, we have made no progress,” said Ed Munson, VP and general manager of CBS affiliate KPHO Phoenix in a statement Tuesday.

If no progress is made in the next two days, Cable One is contractually obligated to drop the signal Jan. 1, which could affect upcoming NFL playoff and NCAA bowl games.

Cable One did not return a call for comment at press time.

Meredith is currently in the midst of 150 local retrans negotiations, as well as several corporate negotiations with larger operators that affect all 12 of its TV stations, but Phoenix is the only market currently at an impasse, said a spokeswoman for the company.

The issue, naturally, is money. Broadcasters are increasingly pushing for cash, and more of it, for their station signals, which are high-value programming on cable systems.

TV stations can either opt for mandatory carriage on cable (must-carry), which means they cannot ask for money or other consideration, or they can opt to try to negotiate payment and risk guaranteed carriage.

Munson told B&C that Cable One would not be getting an extension on that Jan. 1 cut-off date, saying he had made it clear when negotiations began in November that there would be no extension.

"That was plenty of time to reach an agreement," he said. "We have done a deal with virtually every operator in Arizona so we know what a CBS affiliate is worth. These folks don't believe it is worth that much."

Munson said he extended what he called his final offer Monday night and told Cable One if he did not hear from them by close of business he would assume they did not want to carry the station. "I didn't get a phone call," he said.

He has since rescinded what he called a "value concession" in that final offer. "Now our job is to make sure that viewers [which are mostly in rural areas, he says] know they have alternatives like Dish, DirecTV and over-the-air."

Does Munson expect to have to pull the signal? "I am preparing for it. I have staffers ready to answer phone calls."