Cox, Nexstar Settle Retrans Dispute

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Cox Communications Inc. and Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. settled their long-running distribution dispute, and the broadcaster -- which had pulled its local broadcast stations’ signals from Cox systems in January -- returned the feeds from 21 stations to the MSO.

The deal also includes rights for Cox to carry digital-multicast channels from Nexstar stations.

Nexstar had been pushing Cox to pay the company cash in exchange for carrying its broadcast signals. Cox spokeswoman Ellen East said she wouldn’t confirm or deny whether Cox is paying cash for the signals.

It would be unusual for Cox or another cable operator to confirm that it is paying cash for any broadcast content, since it could open the floodgates for demands for similar cash compensation from other broadcast networks and station groups.

Nexstar CEO Perry Sook said the company is happy with the deal. “Nexstar refused to grant retransmission consent without receiving adequate compensation. Although the confidentiality provisions limit Nexstar and Cox from discussing publicly the financial aspects of this agreement, we are pleased to have reached an economic agreement that is acceptable to both parties,” Sook said in a prepared statement.

Cox may have also agreed to run cross-channel spots to promote broadcasts on local Nexstar stations -- a practice that it has agreed to in previous retransmission-consent deals with broadcasters.

Cox chief operating officer Pat Esser said the company is pleased with the agreement. “We regret the inconvenience to our customers while we negotiated these deals, which will keep cable prices reasonable, fair and competitive,” he said in a prepared statement.

The deal lets Cox carry 12 Nexstar stations and nine Mission Broadcasting Inc. stations in Abilene-Sweetwater, San Angelo, Lubbock, Amarillo, Odessa-Midland and Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas; Shreveport, La.; Fort Smith, Little Rock and Monroe-El Dorado, Ark.; Springfield and Joplin, Mo.; and Pittsburg, Kan.

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