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Tacoma Council to weigh in on Click!’s stalemate with Fisher Broadcasting

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Jan. 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm with No Comments »
January 8, 2013 4:42 pm

If only symbolically, Tacoma’s City Council tonight will wade into the contractual standoff between the city-owned Click! cable television network and the corporate owners of KOMO TV.

Councilman Marty Campbell said Tuesday he plans to introduce a resolution “expressing the City Council’s support of the Click! Network and to encourage Fisher Communications to re-engage with Click! to resolve stalled negotiations for carriage of KOMO and other services to Click! Customers.”

Click! stopped transmitting six stations offered by Fisher – including KOMO – on New Year’s Day, after the municipal cable TV network’s re-transmission contract with the broadcast company expired and negotiations for a new deal broke down. The impasse means about 22,000 Click! cable subscribers now can’t watch typically free Fisher television broadcasts.

Click! officials have said they offered a six-percent increase in the carriage fees they pay to Fisher, but the broadcast company turned that down.

Among other things, the council resolution — cosponsored by Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Council members David Boe and Joe Lonergan –  noted that prior to 2009, Fisher didn’t even charge Click! to deliver its free over-the-air broadcast signals . But the company has since charged the fee and hiked it by more than 160 percent since then.

Fisher now proposes new fees that “represent an increase of 300 percent since 2009 and are significantly higher than rates agreed with any other major local broadcast station,” the resolution states.

The measure is meant to send a message to Fisher “to negotiate in good faith and be fair,” Strickland said Tuesday.

Fisher Senior Vice President Randa Minkarah, who was out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday, “is not able to provide numbers in an ongoing negotiation,” an assistant said Tuesday.

In a public statement being shared with viewers, Minkarah has said her company isn’t seeking to treat Click! customers unfairly.

“Click!Network’s inability to reach an agreement with us is not because we are being unreasonable or greedy,” she wrote. ” It is because our costs have gone up dramatically and Click!Network is unwilling to compensate us fairly for the value of the programming that we bring to viewers like you.”

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