There’s never a good time for a carriage dispute, especially when the Super Bowl is involved, but that’s what is facing viewers in three markets. NBC stations KYMA in Yuma, AZ, KIEM in Eureka, CA and KPVI-TV in Idaho Falls, ID were in danger of being blacked out on Charter Communications’ Spectrum systems in their respective markets.
The blackout stems from a carriage dispute between Charter Communications and the stations’ owner, Northwest Broadcasting. The company owns eleven stations, including the three NBC affiliates. It also operates CBS and Fox stations.
The good news for those affected by the Charter blackout is that NBC is allowing access to its Super Bowl programming online without the need to sign in with a cable login. NBC will be putting its entire programming day there, some eleven hours from pregame, Super Bowl broadcast, the halftime show, postgame and the special This is Us episode.
However, for sports bars that utilize the Charter signal for NBC, they’ll have to scramble, either hooking up digital antennas or finding ways to connect to the internet to get the game.
As usual, the dispute stems over money. Charter has put up a website telling viewers of Northwest Broadcasting stations why it has blacked out the affiliates. It contends Northwest is seeking too high of a fee increase.
Stations like KPVI have posted a notice from Northwest saying the company has bargained in good faith.
Even if there’s a last-minute agreement that restores the stations on Charter/Spectrum, viewers will have been left in the lurch and will have had to scramble to find other ways to watch the Super Bowl.
The timing for viewers in Eureka, Idaho Falls and Yuma couldn’t be worse.