KITV eyes cable coin

Hearst-Argyle to try to cut deal in Honolulu

HONOLULU — The parent company of ABC affiliate KITV Honolulu has notified the state’s largest cable provider that it must compensate the station if it wants to keep its programs on its system.

But KITV execs said last week that there is no immediate threat that the station’s programs will disappear from the Oceanic Cable system. Parent company Hearst-Argyle TV on Wednesday extended a deadline until Jan. 20 so negotiations could continue. The cable company’s program guide has been carrying a notice for several weeks that it might have to drop KITV on Jan. 1.

“It is certainly not our intention to withhold our signal,” said Mike Rosenberg, KITV general manager.

The parent company is one of several across the country that has opted to negotiate with the cable carriers about a fee. Rosenberg said the Lifetime cable business on the mainland, in which New York-based Hearst-Argyle is a partner, is negotiating with Oceanic owner Time Warner Inc. on Hearst-Argyle’s behalf.

Programmer’s choice

The situation in Hawaii is occurring because the law allows providers of programs, such as KITV, to insist that cable companies pay them something for the programs and a few have chosen to do so. The cable company is required by law to notify its customers 30 days in advance of any change, an Oceanic spokesman said.

TV companies have two choices under the cable regulations: opting for must carry status, in which the cable company has to carry the programs with no compensation from either side; or waiving the must carry option and going into negotiations for a retransmission consent agreement, in which the programming provider can insist on compensation. In this case, Hearst-Argyle has chosen the negotiation process.

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