I formerly headed up programming for a local ABC-TV affiliate. I later had a similar role with Tacoma’s Click Network, so I can see both sides of the dispute between Click and KOMO-TV that has kept the channel dark.
Stations like KOMO used to be thrilled to be on cable as no station can reach every home with a simple antenna. Cable systems like Click have spent millions of dollars wiring homes and making other capital improvements, making sure high-definition channels look pristine.
Local stations that used to get paid by networks like ABC for carrying programs now often pay that same network for the right to carry shows. Viewership on local channels has dropped due to the multiple online screens/devices viewers now use. This means local advertisers pay less for commercials, and TV stations look for new ways to make up the difference.
KOMO-TV would probably love to bill viewers directly for watching it, but the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t allow that. So these broadcasters use local cable systems as the unofficial billing mechanism to viewers. They know that if local cable systems do not pay the price to carry their “free” channel, they can simply pull the signal. And, thanks to government regulation, cable systems have no ability to negotiate with other nearby ABC stations.
What Fisher Communications has done is unfair to Click customers and all of Tacoma. Thinking about switching to satellite or another cable provider? Just wait until it’s their turn to negotiate with KOMO-TV.