As the nation approaches a looming end-of-the-year financial deal, aptly titled the "fiscal cliff," Treasure Valley television viewers faced a programming cliff as broadcasters and Boise's CBS affiliate faced a looming year-end deadline to reach an agreement with Cable One.
Every three years, DirecTV, Dish Network and cable companies across the country negotiate what they call "retransmission rates" with local programmers.
Cable One, with headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz., operates in 19 different states. Fisher Communications is the parent company behind Boise's KBOI (CBS) and KYUU (CW) stations.
In order to relay Fisher's programming, which includes the NFL, Sixty Minutes, NCIS, David Letterman and other broadcasts, Cable One pays Fisher to retransmit its programming to cable subscribers.
The amount of that fee was the source of contention in recent negotiations, with an overshadowing midnight deadline, Dec. 31, to reach a deal. Cable One viewers may have even seen recent announcements that, without an agreement, KBOI and KYUU programming might go dark at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1.
"We came to an agreement that we both could live with," Trish Niemann, Cable One public relations manager, told Boise Weekly Thursday.
"Programming across the board for cable companies, it’s the highest cost we have. We have to pay all these companies in all these different markets," she said.
While Niemann said she couldn't discuss specifics of the deal, she did say that Fisher Communications raised their rates. Cable companies across the country allege local stations hold those agreements hostage.
Niemann said some stations have asked for 300 times more than the previous rate for retransmission.
"It's our job to try to get that to a more reasonable rate. While many years we absorb the cost, that would be a heavy hike for us to take 300 percent across the country, every station," she said. "It’s a tough balance to negotiate the rate, to help customers keep the channel without breaking the bank."