Upwards of 350,000 people in Las Vegas may have to resort to workarounds in order to watch the Super Bowl. That’s thanks to an ongoing carriage dispute between local CBS station KLAS-TV owner Nexstar Broadcasting Group and Cox Communications, which led to Cox customers seeing KLAS vanish from their channel lineup Saturday after the two sides couldn’t agree on a rate increase despite over five months of negotiations. Cox is the largest TV provider in the city, with an estimated 48 per cent of the market, so this could affect a significant number of people. As per usual in these kinds of disputes, both sides are blaming the other:
Cox spokesman Juergen Barbusca said Friday that an offer to increase the rate paid by the cable company to carry KLAS programming was “on the table.”
“We’ve offered Nexstar an increase, and they’re essentially looking at us and saying, ‘That’s not what we want,’” Barbusca said.
He said this morning that Nexstar has not “changed their offer” in the past two weeks. KLAS contests Cox’s claims and says it’s continuing negotiations to “seek a fair rate and hope that this interruption is temporary.”
In a statement on its website, KLAS made a plea to viewers: “We sincerely apologize for our failure and regret that you — our loyal viewers — have been impacted.”
…A news release from Cox Communications says Nexstar wants three times what Cox is paying now to carry KLAS programming. KLAS General Manager and Vice President Lisa Howfield denied Cox’s claim, calling it “unequivocally untrue.”
“They’re making mischaracterizations about our company, and that’s a problem,” said Howfield, who declined to discuss details of the negotiations.
What’s clear for now is that the conventional CBS signal won’t be available on Cox unless a deal is reached. However, as Chris Kudelias of The Las Vegas Sun notes, there are plenty of potential alternatives for local viewers, including buying an antenna for $8 to $10 to access KLAS’ free over-the-air signal, accessing CBS’ free online stream and connecting that to a TV via a HDMI cable or other method, tuning in to the Spanish broadcast on ESPN Deportes, or going out to a sports book. If the dispute lasts until Sunday, that’s still going to pose at least an annoyance for many Las Vegas residents, though.