TV station group owner Media General (NYSE: MEG) says that it will pull NBC affiliate WSLS-TV from Cox Communications subscribers in Roanoke, Va., unless the MSO agrees to cough up increased fees for retransmission consent. Cox's contract with the station expires on May 31.
Media General, which also owns newspapers, is relying on hikes in retransmission-consent fees to offset declining ad revenue at both its TV stations and newspapers. The company reported last month that it collected $7.8 million in retransmission-consent fees from pay TV providers such as Cox, Verizon (NYSE: VZ), DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) and Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) during the first quarter. Its retransmission-consent revenue jumped 63 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011.
While Media General said it hopes to reach a deal with Cox before its contract expires, the company is encouraging viewers to switch to satellite or install an over-the-air antenna in the event that it pulls the NBC affiliate from Cox.
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