January 28, 2016 Last Updated 4:39 pm

Cox Communications urges consumers to oppose the Nexstar-Media General deal – Nexstar lets loose with reply

The Meredith-Media General may finally be dead, but the soap opera continues – and is heating up!.

Cox Communications today issued a press release urging consumers to oppose the merger between Media General and Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc., the company that came in with an opposing bid for Media General and ruined Meredith’s deal. According to Cox, the deal will mean higher prices for consumers.

“Nexstar is demanding Cox Communications customers pay triple the current price for retransmission consent or Nexstar will remove their signal from the Cox Communications lineup on January 29,” Cox said in a statement. “Nexstar won’t even accept the very same rate that stations they manage agreed to just two weeks ago.”

“Nexstar should not be allowed to become a larger company, which would force more cable TV/satellite companies and ultimately customers to pay higher fees for retransmission consent. This merger is bad for business, bad for consumers and is not in the public interest.”

OK, so let the war of words begin.

“Tactically, Cox’s mis-guided plea to consumers to oppose the announced transaction with Media General serves to further highlight the irrational thinking of Cox’s management as Nexstar’s merger with Media General is in full compliance with the FCC’s rules regarding ownership of television stations, including the national cap, which was statutorily set by Congress,” Nexstar said in its reply.

“Furthermore, Cox’s assertion that “Nexstar won’t even accept the very same rate that stations they manage agreed to just two weeks ago” speaks to the ignorance of Cox as it relates to FCC regulations. Specifically, the FCC adopted rules in 2014 that prohibit Nexstar from knowing the rates agreed to with Cox by the stations Nexstar provides operating services to.”

Mis-guided, ignorance – not words one normally sees in a press release (though TNM does not receive any releases from the Donald Trump campaign, I’m sure those are interesting).

“Cox also fails to acknowledge that the expiring agreement with Nexstar was entered into at the end of 2010. Therefore, for the past 3 plus years, Cox has reaped the benefit of paying significantly under market retransmission consent fees to Nexstar while consistently instituting rate increases to its subscribers. Moreover the economics to the local broadcast industry have changed dramatically since the expiring Nexstar/Cox distribution agreement,” Nexstar asserted.

These battles between cable companies and broadcasters are, unfortunately, the norm. They heat up every time a contract comes up for renewal. This time, though, Cox has made a threat concerning Nexstar’s deal with Media General, one that took a while to conclude. Nexstar apparently thinks that Cox urging consumers to oppose the idea is going too far.

We’ll see where this all ends up. Meanwhile, Meredith can sit back and know that because they were left at the alter they will be receiving a big break up fee from the new combined Media General/Nexstar as a consolation prize.

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