By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

Comcast on Friday joined the growing line of TV providers with carriage disputes by losing two Fox stations owned by Imagicomm Communications. The blackout, which includes KAYU-TV in Spokane, Washington, and WHBQ-TV in Memphis, Tennessee, means that Comcast’s Xfinity viewers in those markets will not be able to watch today’s first Sunday of regular season NFL games on Fox. This is particularly troubling in the Spokane market with the Fox affiliate there scheduled to broadcast the state’s Seattle Seahawks home game against the Los Angeles Rams at 4:25 p.m. ET.

“You pay Xfinity for the convenience of having your favorite broadcasting stations bundled in one place. FOX 28 is one of four local broadcasting stations that you expect to be packaged in any of the bundles you pay for.
If you are an Xfinity subscriber, you now have to go find FOX 28 just to watch your favorite shows. Including Kitchen Nightmares, Special Forces, The Masked Singer, Lego Masters or your favorite live sports including (Seattle Sea) Hawks football!” the Spokane station says at its web site.

However, Comcast alleges Imagicomm, which owns a dozen stations across the country, is known for asking for excessive carriage fees to carry its signals. KAYU-TV has a history of demanding unfair prices at the expense of the consumer and already charges a very high broadcast retransmission consent fee,” Comcast says in a statement. “KAYU-TV and its parent company Imagicomm Communications are now targeting Xfinity TV customers in Spokane to extract even higher fees and have pulled its programming from them. We have made several reasonable offers to KAYU-TV and Imagicomm, but we simply cannot agree to the higher fees they’re requiring in exchange for the same programming they offer today.”

Unless a new carriage deal is reached today, Comcast’s Xfinity subscribers in the Spokane and Memphis markets will have to use an antenna or switch to another TV service to watch today’s Fox NFL broadcasts.

The Comcast-Imagicomm fight follows similar carriage blackouts between DIRECTV and Nexstar, Dish and several local broadcasters, and Spectrum TV and Disney.

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— Phillip Swann