Comcast has announced that it will remove eight local TV channels that it said in December it would keep after saying in November it would drop them.
Confused? Let us explain.
In November, Comcast posted a web notice saying it would dump roughly 35 Hearst-owned local network affiliates in 38 markets where the cable TV provider provides more than one affiliate for at least one network. For example, in Calvert County, Maryland, Comcast provides both the Baltimore NBC station (WBAL-TV) and the Washington, D.C. local NBC (WRC-TV).
Comcast has had to pay the owner of both stations to deliver their signals. And with pay TV operators looking to cut programming costs, the cable operator decided to jettison one of the two affiliates in the 38 markets. The affiliates are owned by Hearst Communications
However, after some Massachusetts lawmakers complained about losing channels in their districts, Comcast reversed course and said it signed an agreement with Hearst allowing it to keep the channels.
“We have come to an agreement with the owners of these stations that will allow us to offer them in the same manner as we have in the past,” a Comcast spokesperson told the TV Answer Man. “As a result, these stations will remain on our channel lineup, and we are notifying customers about this update.”
But Comcast has now posted a new notice at its web site saying that it will remove eight of those affiliates after all. The channels are now available in 12 markets.
“On March 31, 2021 and April 6, 2021, we’ll be removing some TV stations in certain areas from neighboring markets. Please note that the local station affiliate with the same network in your area will still be available for you to watch,” reads the new notice, which was first spotted by Multichannel News.
A Comcast spokesperson tells the publication that some of the stations have their national feeds blacked out so they do not broadcast anything at night. However, they still offer local news, which the affected viewers will now lose. The reason that Comcast has provided dual affiliates in those markets is that some residents have interest in news from both areas because they live roughly the same distance from each.
The eight affiliates that will be removed are:
WJCL (ABC) in Twin City, Georgia
WLKY (CBS) in Horse Cave, Kentucky, Bedford, Indiana, and Tell City, Indiana (3 different markets)
WYFF (NBC) in Newberry, South Carolina
WLWT (NBC) in Connersville, Richmond, Lynn-Winchester, Indiana
WXII (NBC) in Galax, Virginia.
KOAT (ABC) in Portales, New Mexico, Las Cruces, New Mexico (2 different markets)
KCRA (NBC) in Chico/Oroville, California, and Contra Costa/Solano County, California (2 different markets)
KSBW (NBC) in Santa Clara County, California.
Comcast says the three affiliates being removed on April 6 are subject to national blackouts although they provide local programming.
Hearst declined to comment on this latest move, according to Multichannel News.
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— Phillip Swann