Nexstar Broadcasting Group and Cox Communications have reached a new distribution agreement that will restore Nexstar’s stations in nine markets to Cox’s lineup. The deal covers Nexstar’s broadcast platform inclusive of 13 network-affiliated and local stations. Programming on all stations will resume as soon as possible, the companies said. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Cox customers lost access to Nexstar stations’ programming on January 30 when a five-year-old carriage agreement expired. Nexstar’s markets include Las Vegas; Phoenix; Baton Rouge; Acadiana, LA; Pittsburg, KS; Roanoke, VA; Fort Smith and Springdale, AR; and Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The deal comes ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl. Some of Nexstar’s stations — notably, in Las Vegas — are CBS affiliates. That network is carrying the game this year.
Nexstar last week announced a $4.6 billion deal to acquire Media General that if approved would create a local TV behemoth with 171 full-power stations in 100 markets. That deal is expected to close in the fall, assuming it’s approved by the FCC and antitrust officials. The company says it plans to divest some stations in order to pass muster with the FCC’s ownership restrictions.
Cox said during the dispute that the timing of the deal raises “the specter that they are using retransmission fees to fund these deals.” Nexstar, meanwhile, said that Cox is “routinely involved in disputes with content providers” with five local station blackouts since 2012. Nexstar added that it offered Cox “the same rates it offered to other large distribution partners with whom it successfully completed negotiations with in December.”