Wednesday, February 02, 2005

"Bossier officials say Cox is required to air KTAL"

A story in the Shreveport Times documents the other side of the cable-municipal "alliance" remarked on in the previous post. As satellite TV begins to carry local channels, one consequence has been that local stations are emboldened to demand some money from cable companies that benefit from carrying local and national network programming. Cox in particular has been refusing to pay one red cent to a corporate owner of multiple stations, Nextstar, and that has led to its customers across the country (1, 2) losing access to local channels and network programming.

Relevant pull quotes:
"Cox Communications Inc. will violate its franchise agreement with Bossier City by no longer airing KTAL-TV Channel 6, according to a letter the city is sending cable provider Cox Communications today."

"City Attorney Jimmy Hall said Bossier City is acting to protect its interests and ensure Cox adheres to the franchise agreement. The U.S. District Court here has ruled that such agreements, rather than FCC rules, determine a broadcast entity's obligations, he said."
This is the sort of story that underlines the importance of local franchise rights in the current telecom market. Without this document to guard the interest of local viewers, the decision would be strictly an economic one settled as a battle between two large companies interested solely in their own bottom lines nationwide, with the interest of mere local citizens barely registering on the radar screens of the corporations.

The Lafayette side note is obvious: LUS will be carrying local stations. Once the network is built, it will be much less likely that Lafayette citizens will be caught as innocent bystanders in a gun battle between large corporations. Cox would be foolish to consider dropping local stations in the face of real, local, competition. And if they were to prove so foolish, the citizens would have a real choice: LUS.

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