by Kate Knable
Posted 2/20/2012 12:00 am
Updated 3 years ago
Cox Communications cable subscribers in the Berryville and Harrison areas, who lost KARK-TV, Channel 4, out of Little Rock in January, aren’t going to also lose KATV-TV, Channel 7, at the end of this month after all.
Cox dropped KARK from its channel lineup in January, not long before ABC elected not to offer its Little Rock affiliate, KATV, via Cox cable in the same northwest Arkansas area that falls within the Springfield, Mo., market.
Kelly Zega, Arkansas spokeswoman for Cox, said the cable provider chose to cut KARK because the station’s reporting seemed to duplicate much of what KATV and Little Rock’s CBS affiliate KTHV-TV, Channel 11, offered in Harrison and its surrounding communities, while failing to provide as extensive college sports coverage as KATV.
Cox inherited the KARK and KATV channels when buying into the Harrison-Berryville market in 1999.
Dropping KARK freed up bandwidth for more digital, high-definition TV programming and faster high-speed Internet, while still leaving viewers with some local news and sports options, Zega said.
“Customers are looking for a more robust channel lineup,” she said.
Analog systems, such as KARK’s, require dramatically more bandwidth than digital channels do, Zega said. Cox has not yet revealed what the new channels will be.
Mark Rose, general manager of KATV, said ABC’s decision not to offer KATV on Cox cable in the small northwest Arkansas towns was not made locally.
Viewer complaints to Cox and KATV inspired a renegotiation with ABC earlier this month. Thus, Cox will continue to include KATV and KTHV on its channel lineup. Cox does not carry any northwest Arkansas channels in Harrison.
However, KATV has to be vigilant to black out its network and syndicated content so as not to compete with the network programming of KSPR-TV, the Springfield ABC affiliate, in KSPR’s own market.
The Federal Communications Commission determines market areas.
Rose said residents of Harrison and its surrounding communities want to see Arkansas news and sports. And KATV airs Arkansas sports, even when doing so draws other viewers’ vitriol — like on Wednesday evenings from January to March, when college basketball gets airtime and watchers of the 7-9 p.m. comedy block have to catch re-runs of “Modern Family” later in the night.
“We’ve tried to brand KATV as the Razorback station,” Rose said.