Some cable viewers in the St. George area have lost access to two Salt Lake City TV stations. ABC affiliates KTVX-Channel 4 and CW affiliate KUCW-Channel 30 were removed from the TDS cable lineup on Jan. 1.
It affects local viewers in Utah, but it’s not a local dispute. The stations' corporate parent, Nexstar, is locked in a battle with TDS over retransmission payments — the fees cable and satellite providers pay local stations to carry their signals.
In addition to Utah’s ABC and CW affiliates, the fight has knocked 12 stations in Colorado, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas off TDS cable.
As is generally the case in such disputes, each side is blaming the other. TDS released a statement that it has offered Nexstar “a reasonable increase” and accused the station owner of demanding “rates that are well outside industry norms” — an increase of “up to 129 percent” that TDS would be forced to pass along to its customers. “We are protecting our customers from unreasonable rate hikes,” the cable company insisted.
TDS also blamed Nexstar for refusing to “extend talks and allow TDS to continue carrying these stations” while negotiations continue.
Nexstar, on the other hand, places the blame on TDS, claiming it has been “negotiating tirelessly” and “proposing fair and reasonable terms.” It slammed the cable company for making “unrealistic proposals” and being “willing to hold its paying subscribers captive because it won’t agree to pay a fair price for your local stations.”
Each side is urging viewers to contact the other.
The TDS-Nexstar dispute, which affects viewers in the southwest corner of Utah, has knocked KTVX and KUCW off the relatively small cable operators' lineup for a few days; the dispute over retransmission fees between KSL-Channel 5 and DirecTV — which has kept the NBC affiliate off the satellite provider’s lineup since mid-August — continues, with no end in sight.
Neither KSL nor DirecTV reports any progress toward a resolution.