Cox threatens to clip Super Bowl cable and the question is, would they REALLY do that?

January 24, 2007 at 2:08 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

The Super Bowl will not air for Cox Communications cable subscribers in St. Charles Parish unless CBS-affiliate WWL-TV’s parent company, BELO Corp., of Dallas, Texas, and Cox’s corporate office in Atlanta, Georgia, can settle a dispute before game day on Feb. 4.

And that means you’ll need rabbit ears and a special “AV switch” - or access to a friend or sports bar with satellite service - to watch the Indianapolis Colts take on the Chicago Bears unless a last-minute deal is struck.

“I want to assure St. Charles Parish customers that Cox has been negotiating with BELO, which owns the station that will be airing the Super Bowl locally, WWL Channel 4, for over a year now,” Cox spokesman Steve Sawyer, told the Herald-Guide.

“Our corporate office has been trying to get permission to continue carrying BELO’s signals so we can keep providing Channel 4 in our cable line-up but our hands are tied.

“We are required by law to obtain permission from the broadcasters to carry their signals, and we have not received that permission from BELO to air the Super Bowl.”

Sawyer says normally negotiations concerning cable contracts are discussed behind closed doors. But, he says, WWL “went public” a few weeks ago to involve viewers in an apparent attempt to bring pressure to bear on Cox in the negotiation process.

“These kinds of negotiations happen all the time and involving the viewers is unnecessary,” Sawyer says.

Brad Grundmeyer, manager of public relations for Cox Communications, says BELO wants to charge cable customers “for a signal they should be getting free.”

“This is really about them wanting to charge our customers a fee for a signal they provide at no charge over the airwaves for non-cable residents, says Grundmeyer.

“Why should our customers have to pay for this local channel?”

A letter Albert Brown, president and general manager for WWL television in New Orleans, sent to St. Charles Parish Councilman Desmond Hilaire says Cox notified WWL that it intends to discontinue broadcasting Channel 15 (a 24-hour cable news channel) and also WWL Channel 4, the Super Bowl station, on Jan. 31

This is despite the fact that “we have offered to renew our agreement with them under the same terms we’ve always had for the past 17 years,” Brown says.

Hilaire said the customers in St. Charles Parish will be “very upset” if the problem is not resolved. “Our residents deserve to get the cable services that they are paying for and I can’t believe that we could lose this channel right before the Super Bowl,” Hilaire says.

Cox’s cable contract with St. Charles Parish expires in Dec. of 2007.

View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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