WFSB Goes Dark To Cablevision Customers

Despite Extension, Parties Cannot Reach Agreement
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Despite a three-day extension to its retransmission consent agreement, Connecticut CBS affiliate WFSB went dark to Cablevision Systems customers at 6:30 p.m. Friday, after the two could not reach an agreement.

WFSB’s retrans pact originally was set to expire at midnight on Dec. 31, but the station granted an extension to the agreement while the parties continued to negotiate. At issue was a demand by the station to be paid for carriage in Fairfield County, which is also served by CBS’s New York affiliate, WCBS. Cablevision had already agreed to pay WFSB for carriage in Litchfield and Hartford counties.

Despite WFSB’s going dark, the vast majority of Cablevision’s Connecticut customers will continue to have access to CBS programming through WCBS.

“Cablevision has already agreed to pay for WFSB Channel 3 CBS in Litchfield and New Haven counties where it is the local CBS affiliate,” Cablevision said in a statement. “In an unprecedented move, the WFSB owners have now pulled the plug on CBS programming in parts of central Litchfield and three New Haven County towns unless Cablevision and its customers agree to pay for two CBS channels in Fairfield County. It is outrageous and unfair for the WFSB owners to hold customers in parts of Litchfield and New Haven counties hostage in order to force Fairfield County customers to pay twice for essentially the same CBS programming. We call on the WFSB owners to immediately return WFSB Channel 3 CBS to our customers and work with us on an agreement that is fair to our Connecticut customers.” 

In a statement on its website, WFSB said that it has “tried very hard” to reach an agreement with the cable operator.

“We are disappointed in the outcome of our attempts to negotiate with Cablevision, especially since we have successfully reached agreements with every major cable and satellite company that recognizes our fair market value,” WFSB said on its website.

In a statement, Cablevision said it offered to continue carrying the station while it negotiated an agreement. That request was denied.