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» Why the Benton blackout of KOIN?

HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Why the Benton blackout of KOIN?

Written May 26th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

That’s all that Comcast customers in Benton County saw today when they tried to get Channel 6.

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.

 

 

 

 



10 responses to “Why the Benton blackout of KOIN?”

  1. Eric M says:

    I would bet the answer has something to do with the FCC, which regulates what viewing market each county is part of. A few years back, I (a resident of Linn County) subscribed to DirecTV. The installer entered the information that we were in Benton County; thus, our local programming all came from Eugene. About two months later, during what I assume was a routine geo-audit, DirecTV without warning switched us over to Portland local programming, as Linn County is assigned to that market.

    When I first saw the news that North Albany was blocked from KOIN programming, my first thought was that someone had made a mistake somewhere in giving KOIN to Benton County in the first place.

  2. hj.anony1 says:

    Who cares! It’s not in HD so I don’t see it. Now cross the river into Linn it might be missed. Maybe?

  3. Tony White says:

    I suspect it has to do with local advertising. KVAL and KOIN carry their own local ads, and if the Portland channel is shown in what is determined to be the Eugene area, it dilutes the “truly local” viewership, thus diluting the value of the advertising. I’ll bet it’s a business decision and there is an under-the-table agreement involved here.

  4. Pat Nevin says:

    We have recently been informed that Comcast has made the decision to drop KOIN TV’s out-of-market carriage. We believe Comcast made this decision because Benton County is assigned by the Nielsen Company to the Eugene Designated Market Area. Therefore, despite KOIN TV’s proximity to Benton County carriage of KOIN TV is optional.

    While we are constrained by the confidentiality provisions of our agreement with Comcast from stating anything further, please be assured that Nexstar and Comcast do have in place a retransmission consent agreement that allows Comcast to carry KOIN TV on its out of market systems (as your system is), but the decision to do so is solely at Comcast’s discretion.

    Notwithstanding Comcast’s decision to discontinue carriage of KOIN TV, KOIN TV remains available to viewers in Benton County via the station’s over-the-air broadcast signal (available at no charge), and current news and weather information can be obtained via KOIN TV’s affiliated website, http://www.koin.com.

    Patrick Nevin
    Vice President / General Manager
    KOIN TV, KOIN.com
    Patrick.nevin@koin.com
    503-464-0627

    • In view of Pat’s explanation, why would Comcast claim the station “required” it to quit carrying Channel 6?

      • hj.anony1 says:

        Then why would Comcast continue to offer SD only KGW and KATU (Portland FCC zone) channels to Benton Co. subs?

        Something is afoot. ><

  5. John Hartman says:

    Given the paucity of information coming out of local broadcast newsrooms these days, this story seems much ado about nothing.

  6. John Hartman says:

    If you want to have your finger n the pulse in the Lower Willamette Valley, then all you need is KWVT-TV, channel. 318 on Albany Comcast….cable company to the stars and, because they carry FOX, home to the sexual harassers. The millions Rupert Murdoch has paid to these women, thanks to Ailes and the O’Reilly Fabrication Machine, have cost Albany cable-tv subscribers real money. Why anyone would continue to watch FOX when there is a benevolent alternative, locally-owned KWVT-TV, is beyond comprehension.

  7. Grace Peterson says:

    I just hope we don’t loose KGW. I watch it all the time.

  8. Shawn Dawson says:

    I will put in a plug here for over-the-air broadcasts mentioned by Patrick Nevin of KOIN.

    We invested in a large, amplified, antenna on our roof 10 years ago when the stations started broadcasting in HD. Our house is in downtown Albany, and we are able to pull in stations from Portland n beautiful HD. We can also pull in all the Eugene stations, so we get both markets. Currently, our antenna stays mostly pointed at Eugene, as most of the Portland stations have repeaters setup in Lebanaon — so one can get Eugene + Portland without having to move the antenna with the rotor.

    While it is an expense — hundreds of dollars — it has paid for itself many times over by allowing us to forego the need for either cable or a dish. Rather than a $100+ monthly cable/dish bill, we choose to spend $25 for Netflix and Hulu. We added in a Tivo box, which DVR’s the over-the-air broadcasts in HD, so we can record and watch all the ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, WB, and PBS shows and news when we want.

    Just letting folks know broadcast TV is of higher HD quality than cable or dish, and is also cheaper. It felt good to take control of our viewing, rather than take what the cable company gives, and pay what they demand.

    In fairness, the major downside to over-the-air broadcasts, is lack of sports programming and cable news channels. That is, no ESPN or PAC-12 networks; no CNN or FOX. Although not having the latter two can make for a happier life and put more money in your bank account.

 

 
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