If You're a Comcast Subscriber, Prepare to Lose Access to Local TV Stations
An ongoing carriage dispute could result in the loss of 200 channels before January.
In today's world, there are several different options to watch TV—some might say too many. While you're now able to cherry-pick your services depending on the content you're most interested in, you sometimes end up subscribing to cable and streaming platforms that add up to more than you'd like to be paying. And these services can still sometimes let you down, with the shows, movies, and even channels you rely on suddenly disappearing. Now, Comcast subscribers risk losing access to local TV stations. Read on to learn more about this ongoing dispute, and which channels are on the chopping block.
Several cable TV subscribers have faced potential blackouts.
It feels like we're constantly heading about carriage disputes, as networks and providers butt heads when it comes to pricing and contract negotiations. Several of these disputes recently made headlines, the latest of which was between Fox and DirecTV.
On Nov. 27, Fox began warning DirecTV customers that they might lose Fox programming due to an ongoing contract dispute, per The Hollywood Reporter. Access was intended to be removed on Dec. 2, but thankfully an agreement was reached before a blackout (the term used when previously scheduled programing isn't aired in certain markets) could happen. On Dec. 3, Deadline reported that the two companies agreed to a short-term extension to continue negotiations and avoid the removal of networks and local stations.
Back in October, Verizon told its Fios TV customers that negotiations were proving difficult with Nexstar Media Group. This actually led to a blackout of 15 different channels in 12 major metro markets, but an agreement was finally reached at the end of the month, The Providence Journal reported.
Now, yet another carriage dispute is emerging—once again with Nexstar—and it could cost viewers roughly 200 channels.
There are two driving forces behind the latest carriage dispute.
Subscribers to Comcast's Xfinity service across the country may soon be without their local news channels and sports programming.
According to The Desk, the issue is the result of a carriage dispute between Nexstar Media Group and Comcast, which customers were first warned of on Dec. 10. There are two major components to the dispute, per The Desk: the prices Comcast is required to pay Nexstar to carry local stations and digital networks, as well as an ongoing lawsuit about Nexstar's management of a channel in New York City (WPIX-TV).
Viewers could lose access before the end of the year.
According to The TV Answer Man, viewers have already been alerted to this issue, but no date has been confirmed for when the companies' agreement expires. However, the last deal was signed on Dec. 31, 2019, and agreements usually end on or around that same calendar day, the outlet reported. With that in mind, there's still some time for Nexstar and Comcast to come to an agreement—but the situation is serious.
"COMCAST Subscribers: WFLA (The Nexstar-owned NBC station in Tampa Bay, Florida) could be forced off your line-up, and important programming you pay for could disappear," a customer alert states, per The TV Answer Man. The warning goes on to explain the existing contract with Comcast and that the need to establish a new agreement to keep the channel available.
"WFLA has presented a proposal for fair value based on the importance and value our programming brings our viewers," the alert continues. "Despite our tireless efforts, COMCAST has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult. Our offer is fair. And now they may hold you, the subscriber, hostage. It's not right."
Nexstar owns almost 200 stations, including local channels in Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Hawaii, California, Nevada, Oregon, Missouri, New Mexico, Florida, Kansas, and Virginia, among others, according to The Desk.
Also on the chopping block are digital networks like Antenna TV, Rewind TV, Court TV, Laff, Grit, Bounce, TBD TV, and Ion Television, the outlet reports, which will disappear if an agreement can't be reached. The same goes for Nexstar's recently launched cable channel, NewNation.
The WPIX channel has already been pulled.
Last week, WPIX (a CW station) was officially pulled in the tri-state area, The Desk reported, although those in New York City still have access to Charter's Spectrum TV service.
Issues with WPIX date back to 2021, when Comcast filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), The Desk reported. The channel was divested when Nexstar acquired Tribune Media, and it now operates WPIX with Mission Broadcasting, under a local marketing agreement.
Comcast believes the local marketing agreement with Mission allows Nexstar "to skirt federal ownership rules without technically owning the stations." The issue resulted in a lawsuit that is still pending, with both companies ordered to provide evidence by June 2023.