Fox has been dumped in two medium-sized markets, with stations owner Pegasus Communications flipping two affils to the WB effective next month.
The move could temporarily shut Fox out of Portland, Maine, and Jackson, Miss., where Pegasus is set to switch to the WB on Oct. 7. In light of the defection, Fox said it was weighing its options in three more markets (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Penn., Tallahassee, Fla., and Live Oak, Fla./Valdosta, Ga.) where Pegasus still owns Fox affils.
“We’re thrilled to expand our relationship with Pegasus into new markets,” said Ken Werner, head of distribution at the WB.
Bob Quicksilver, president of network distribution at Fox, said the net had already started talking to other stations in the two markets about potentially flipping affiliations. Fox has also talked to local MSOs about adding a cable feed of Fox for now.
Although Fox has had bumpy relations with its affils in recent years, Pegasus becomes the first station group to actively drop its Fox association.
“They made the decision that they did not want to operate as a Fox affiliate,” Quicksilver said. “This disenfranchises a lot of Fox viewers in those markets.”
Quicksilver said he didn’t expect other small-market Fox affils to follow suit. To help pacify affils, the net recently allowed stations to shift back the Fox Kids block by an hour.