Cablevision and WFSB extend deadline

Cablevision and WFSB have extended their negotiation deadline to keep Connecticut’s CBS affiliate on southwestern Connecticut TVs.

Cablevision, which serves Wilton and most of southern Fairfield County, issued this statement on New Year’s Eve: “Cablevision and the owners of WFSB Channel 3 have agreed to an extension of their retransmission agreement until 6:30 p.m. on Friday, January 3, 2014 while the companies continue to negotiate.”

WFSB-TV announced Thursday morning, Dec. 26, it had been unable to reach a new agreement with the most used cable company in southwestern Connecticut. The current agreement was set to expire at midnight.

WFSB, broadcast on Channel 3, is based out of Hartford and is owned by the Meredith Corporation. The company announced last decade it planned to increase its Fairfield County news coverage after centering much of its coverage in and around the Hartford-New Haven area. But that coverage has mainly been in alternate infomercials simulcast on Channel 3 in this area.

Cablevision’s Optimum TV service does carry New York’s WCBS-TV, which is owned by CBS, and offers much of the same programming in high-definition. That network came to terms with Cablevision in September 2012. Cablevision said that 80% of its subscribers will continue to receive WCBS, including all in Fairfield County.

One of the only things that WFSB has that WCBS does not is New England Patriots games. When the New York Jets or Giants are playing at the same time on as the Patriots on the CBS Network, WCBS shows the New York games on Channel 2 while Patriots fans can find New England games on Channel 3.

“Cablevision has already agreed to pay for carriage of WFSB Channel 3 in parts of Litchfield and New Haven Counties where it is the local CBS channel,” Kelly McAndrew, a Cablevision spokesman, told Hersam Acorn Newspapers. “In an unprecedented move, the owners of WFSB Channel 3 are now threatening to punish viewers in parts of central Litchfield and three towns in New Haven County by blacking out CBS programming unless Cablevision agrees to pay for two different CBS channels in Fairfield County.

“Cablevision has been fighting to hold the line on skyrocketing programming costs, and we urge the owners of WFSB Channel 3 to leave the channel on and not punish their viewers in parts of central Litchfield County and three towns in New Haven County,” McAndrew said.

On its website, WFSB wrote Thursday morning, Dec. 26: “We are disappointed in the outcome of our negotiations, especially since we have successfully reached agreements with every major cable and satellite company that recognizes our fair  market value The fact is that we are only asking Cablevision OptimumTV for pennies a day from your cable bill for our programming. Without fair and equitable treatment, local TV stations will not be able to continue to provide top quality news, sports, entertainment, and other local programming that is most important to you.”

The station said its negotiations would continue but “we do not know if, or when, we will reach an agreement. In the meantime, we hope you will continue supporting local television and watch us through alternative means.”