Portland TV station KOIN is no longer available on the Comcast cable system in Benton County, and both the station and the cable company left viewers in the dark about the reason why.
Late Friday, KOIN answered a Facebook inquiry this way: “Comcast has the option to continue offering KOIN programming to their subscribers, but unfortunately has elected to remove KOIN from their channel offerings. Benton County is outside of the Portland market coverage area – but CBS programming is still available on KVAL. You can also voice your concerns directly with Comcast to insure it understands the significance of the decision to remove KOIN from their station line up. You can also watch KOIN online http://koin.com/video/livestream/”
Cable customers in Benton County noticed Channel 6 missing Thursday morning and one of them asked me what I knew about it. Nothing, it turned out, and I didn’t learn much more since.
This morning I emailed KOIN’s General Manager Pat Nevin with an inquiry about what was going on. No response.
I also called the station. The recorded voice of Jeff Gianola, the evening news anchor, invited me to listen to various options because he wanted to make sure to direct me to the correct extension. But his advice was no good. Pressing one number got me back to the start of Gianola’s cheerful spiel, and another gave me recorded program information for two months ago, in March.
I called the station’s newsroom, where a helpful young man picked up and transferred me to the general manager. I left a message but didn’t hear back.
Friday afternoon I stopped by Comcast’s Lewisburg office. A clerk said she had no information on the reasons for the Benton County KOIN blackout, having first heard about it from a technician. But she said no other TV providers, such as satellite systems, were able to carry Channel 6 in Benton County either. Whether that’s true I don’t know, and KOIN’s Facebook response suggests it was really Comcast’s choice to kill Channel 6 in Benton County. Calls to Comcast’s Lewisburg number got busy signals every time I tried.
Obviously something higher up is going on. Maybe it’s a dispute over carriage fees or TV markets or something like that. But you’d think both Comcast and KOIN would have enough regard for their audience and customers to give them an explanation when a change like this is made. But, evidently not. (hh)
This story was edited and substantially changed Friday night after KOIN issued its statement in response to a Facebook question.