The local ABC affiliate, host to KEYT News in Santa Barbara, could go off the air for a while next week if a new contract cannot be negotiated by midnight Sunday, according to KEYT general manager Michael Granados.
He said the station’s multiyear agreement with Cox Communications expires then, and the two sides have been negotiating in good faith for five weeks on a new one.
Granados, who is also the CEO for Smith Media, wouldn’t go into detail about the negotiations, but said there could be an interruption in service since Cox has not agreed to an extension.
People have supported KEYT on the station’s Facebook page, and the station urges people to contact Cox Communications and ask to keep getting ABC in Santa Barbara.
“There’s also the possibility that we’ll be able to resolve this before the expiration,” Granados said. “I’m optimistic that we’ll get this resolved.”
A Cox Communications public affairs representative could not be reached for comment Friday.
In an email sent to some Cox customers Saturday, the company blamed Smith Media for the impasse, claiming KEYT’s parent company “is demanding unreasonable fees.”
“Dear Valued Cox Customer,” the email began. “You may have heard recent reports by ABC-affiliate KEYT that KEYT and My Network TV may no longer be available on Cox’s lineup if their parent company, Smith Media, does not reach an agreement with us.
“We would like you to know that Cox is working hard and in good faith to negotiate a deal with Smith Media to keep its programming on Cox’s channel lineup for our customers. Unfortunately, Smith Media is demanding unreasonable fees that are far above market rate and that would cause our customers’ bills to rise — fees for a television channel that is otherwise available for free, over the air. Without an agreement, Smith Media is refusing to grant Cox permission to carry its signals past 11:59 p.m. PST on Sunday, August 19, 2012.”
The Cox email said the company will continue to negotiate with Smith Media “to secure a reasonable agreement that avoids unduly burdening our customers.”