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The deadline for an agreement has passed. Will local cable customers lose channels?

WBTW -
WBTW - jbell@thesunnews.com

Horry Telephone Cooperative said Sunday the company is not willing to meet a demand for a fee increase from the parent company of the Myrtle Beach area channel WBTW.

A Saturday deadline has passed for Nexstar Media Group and HTC to reach a deal on a rate fee for the rights to broadcast local channel WBTW and MyNetworkTV. HTC officials said the company is still working to get the two channels back on its cable lineup.

Nexstar had asked that cable, phone and internet provider HTC pay double the existing fee rate for the rights.

In a Sunday release from HTC, the company said it is not willing to meet Nexstar's demand for a 163 percent increase from HTC's current rate.

HTC Chief Executive Officer Mike Hagg said HTC never wants to put members in the middle of negotiations and temporarily lose programming while negotiations continue. He said the company wants members to be informed and feel confident that HTC will not stop battling unprecedented rate increases.

"This is not a decision that HTC takes lightly," Hagg said. "We have been able to reach reasonable agreements with other programmers and prevent any interruption of service. We continue working to get WBTW and MyNetworkTV back on our cable lineup as quickly as possible and appreciate your patience as we try to negotiate a reasonable and fair rate."

So what does that mean for local viewers?

Subscribers in Georgetown County can view CBS programs on channel 17 or HD channel 817.

All other subscribers can watch programming on channel 19 or HD channel 819. HTC said members who do not have a set-up box may need to re-scan their television sets to see channels 19 and 819.

Viewers may also watch WBTW news and weather using these options:

  • Live news and weather at www.wbtw.com or on the WBTW app.
  • An over-the-air antenna. Indoor and outdoor models are available at most electronic and big-box stores.
  • CBS All Access provides a live stream of WBTW and can be accessed online, through mobile devices or on television with a streaming device using the All Access app.

Cable customers could lose shows like Big Bang Theory, NCIS, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds and 60 minutes if a deal isn't reached.

Cable companies pay the monthly fees, called retransmission fees, to station owners for the right to broadcast certain channels. It's a monthly fee calculated by taking the fee amount and multiplying it by the number of cable customers a company has, HTC Marketing Supervisor Sandy Hendrick said.

If the rates do go up, Hendrick said it could result in bigger cable bills for customers down the road, though there is no immediate plan for a rate increase.

The cable company made deals with the corporate owners of stations WMBF and and WPDE in December.

For more information about how and why local companies like HTC are subject to these negotiations every few years, go to KeepTheConnections.com.

Mohu antennas, made by Raleigh based company, were distributed to AT&T U-verse customers at a makeshift drive through in the PNC Arena parking lot in early October. The antennas allow users to view WRAL and WRAZ programming for free as the contrac

Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong

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