UPDATED: WSB-Charter Dispute: What's the Situation?

The station may not be available to Charter cable TV viewers come Jan. 1.

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Follow Gwinnett news on Patch.
Updated 11:06 p.m., Dec. 31

Charter Cable To Drop WSB-TV on Jan. 1
The possibility that WSB-TV won't be available to Charter cable television viewers as of Jan. 1 is essentially governed by federal regulations.

Charter currently carries WSB in its lineup under a "retransmission consent" agreement that is outlined by the Federal Communications Commission. But that agreement is to expire on Dec. 31, and so the station could be dropped from the Charter lineup if no new deal is reached by then.

The situation between WSB and Charter came to light recently when the station began telling viewers on TV and in social media that Charter "may drop" WSB on Jan. 1, 2014. WSB still was alerting viewers to the situation via a "ticker" on morning news telecasts on Tuesday, Dec. 31.

Also, according to FCC regulations, local stations such as WSB can require that cable TV operators include them in their lineups under a "must carry" provision. However, the "must carry" provision can only be applied if the station so chooses, according to wikipedia.org.

WSB officials could not be reached for comment on the situation.

Charter Senior Director of Communications John R. Miller issued the following statement Monday to Patch:

"Charter has made the choice to focus on resolving terms of our agreement and negotiating in good faith – business to business. We have no comment on why Cox-owned WSB would choose to remove their signal from our customers during contract talks."

If WSB indeed is dropped from Charter's lineup, it would not be the first such blackout. According to wikipedia, in August 2013, Time Warner Cable and CBS reached an impasse in talks over retransmission fees. That forced a one-month blackout of CBS networks.

-- How do you feel about this situation? Tell us in the comments below.

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Bob Williams December 31, 2013 at 07:45 AM
These media disputes are happening with greater frequency. The consumer ends up paying the penalty both in coverage and increased fees. Good morning America?
Steve Burns (Editor) December 31, 2013 at 08:34 AM
Thanks for the comment, Bob. We'll be monitoring this situation, for sure.
Joy Calloway December 31, 2013 at 09:53 AM
We might have to take some "Revenge" on both of these entities, if they cannot reach an agreement. LOL! Thank goodness the BCS National Championship game is on CBS (Go Tigers!), and not WSB's ABC. WSB does realize, surely, how much their ratings will drop if they don't choose to apply the "must carry" provision with so many Charter subscribers. I suspect WSB Radio will suffer as well from some backlash, especially since the much more balanced 106.7 FM news radio station is catching on more and more. I suspect both WSB and Charter know what is at stake - it's like the Government shutdown - neither will win, if this is not resolved today.
Mack December 31, 2013 at 04:02 PM
Back last year when Charter came out with the box rental program for their system was disgusted with Charter. We are paying for a box and with as many channels that are on the cable only watch about 10 or so most of the time. We are not pay per view or movie fans so do not take those channels. Would like to select the channels we want and pay for them and leave the others that we do not watch off the list. The FCC is the may be the one to contact about this issue. We the consumer will be the one that will pay for this in the long run. Contact the FCC and complain.
cruz25/8/366 January 01, 2014 at 11:32 AM
It pretty much boils down to this. Networks are pushing higher broadcasting fees down cable and satellite providers throats. In the case with CBS and Time Warner, CBS, outside of NFL on CBS, wasn't drawing the viewership numbers on a week to week basis to justify the increase cost to carry their channel so the provider pushed back. They could not come to an agreement by the deadline date on their previous contract so off goes the channel until they can come up with a resolution. Since the cable/satellite providers won't budge, the network then start running these headlines saying "Big bad cable/satellite provider is threatening to remove channel x. Call them and let them know you want channel x on your package. They already know they want the channel on the package but the networks spin it to make them look like the good guys when the provider is trying to save the consumer $$. They then come to a compromise and channel makes it back to TV. Given the increase costs to providers and networks and the growing frustrations with consumers, I don't see cable/satellite TV lasting another 20 years. Everything is slowly but surely moving online and I see networks pulling the plug here in the very near future and moving to a Hulu/Netflix type platform. If cable companies do not adjust to changing times, they will eventually be left in the dust. Happy New Year everyone.
Mike Woodliff January 01, 2014 at 12:28 PM
My contract is with Charter who agreed to provide local basic service. If WSB wants more money, I suggest Charter pay it since failure to provide me with promised services is a violation of their contract with me. I have no contract with WSB.
Mike Woodliff January 01, 2014 at 03:44 PM
Something happened. The channel is back up and I'm watch South Carolina vs Wisconsin.....that's as it should be on New Years Day.
Mack January 01, 2014 at 03:54 PM
Mike Woodliff: Hope that Charter caved in on this deal. Their rates are somewhat high and have no customer service. Will be checking the WSB web site for further information. read on another site that someone or group may be suing Charter for violation of contract with the consumers. Not sure how far that will go but may be worth looking into since Charter did not provide the service as advertised.
Morris Devereaux January 02, 2014 at 04:32 PM
I absolutely agree with Mike Woodliff. My basic cable agreement states that I will receive ABC and CBS. It doesn't state that I'll receive them if Charter can get the terms they want from the networks. That said, both Charter (through the cable franchise agreement with Fulton County) and ABC/CBS (through the FCC - who is provided a broadcast license in order to both provide the public with programming AND to receive protection from the government so that no one else can broadcast on their frequency) are allowed to operate by the government in order to provide the general public with programming. If BOTH entities cannot fulfill the terms of their licenses with the government, then I suggest our elected officials find other cable companies and networks who can.


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