KTKA returns to satellite network

ABC affiliate is back on Dish Network after negotiations, but KMBC still off Sunflower

January 9, 2009


KTKA, the ABC affiliate serving the Topeka television market, is back on Dish Network after the two operators settled an impasse that had disconnected the station’s programming from subscribers since midnight Jan. 1.

Now that the station’s owner, Free State Communications LLC, has that issue settled, the company’s parent is continuing efforts to restore access to two Kansas City, Mo.-based stations for its own cable-television subscribers through Sunflower Broadband.

Sunflower, which is owned by The World Company — owner of both KTKA and the Journal-World — lacks a valid retransmission agreement to carry over-the-air signals of two stations owned by Hearst-Argyle Television Inc.: KMBC, an ABC affiliate previously shown on Sunflower’s channel 9; and KCWE, a CW affiliate that had been on channel 17.

A previous agreement expired at midnight Jan. 1, leaving Sunflower unable to carry the stations’ signals.

At issue is money. Neither side will disclose its offer, only to assert that the offers are commensurate with retransmission pacts that each side already has worked out with other companies.

Wayne Godsey, general manager for KMBC and KCWE, said Hearst-Argyle would create “quite a bit of bad feeling and controversy” by making an agreement that would be “substantially out of line” with others.

“The proposal we made to Sunflower is absolutely in line with what we have asked for — and received, by the way — from other cable systems, large and small, and from DirecTV and the Dish Network,” Godsey said.

He continued: “We don’t think that we have asked anything of Sunflower that is not appropriate and is not justified by the overall marketplace. It’s frustrating and, frankly, a little bit surprising that we’re having so much difficulty reaching an agreement … (but) it is not going to get fixed by us just caving in to Sunflower’s demands.”

Patrick Knorr, chief operating officer for The World Company, said that Hearst-Argyle was seeking fees that would be “significantly higher than any other deals we’ve made.”

His company would sign an agreement immediately if Hearst-Argyle were willing to substantiate its claim that its offer was in line with those for satellite and large cable operators, Knorr said.

“We recognize the value of the programming they offer,” Knorr said. “We urgently and absolutely want to get that back in front of our viewers, but this is about the cost to our consumers, and this is about the cost to our communities that we serve.

“Ultimately, whether or not we pass this cost on to consumers, this cost is coming out of our community. We’re a locally based company. They are demanding to extract money from us, from our customers, and at an exceptionally higher amount than (in) any other deal we have. And we think it’s wrong.”


aha 9 years, 3 months ago

Sunflower and KMBC need to hurry up and reach an agreement. KTKA really, really sucks, and I hate having to watch it.

tir 9 years, 3 months ago

Patrick Knorr's message on Sunflower Cable Channel 17 indicated that KMBC and KCWE were demanding Sunflower customers pay $100,000 for receiving these stations' signals over cable, but neglected to say if the amount mentioned was a yearly, monthly, weekly, or daily rate. I would like to know what they are really asking for. I don't think KTKA is all that bad. I have been used to getting the KC news, but I can always watch KCTV 5 for that. What I miss is the KCWE programming. Sure, I can watch it on the computer, but the desk chair is not as comfortable as my couch, so it's not as convenient for me. But if you have no computer, or if there are multiple family members who want to watch something on one little computer screen, that is a REAL problem. Sunflower customers have a right to be ticked off at both Sunflower and the KC stations for jerking us around.I think Sunflower really should worry about customers deserting them for other alternatives if this goes on much longer, and the folks at Hearst-Argyle might want to consider how their advertisers feel about losing a sizable audience in Lawrence. Both have something to lose. They need to work this out. Fast.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years, 3 months ago

And of course, neither of the combatants will reveal the truth, the dollars involved. Rather, like a couple of spoiled rotten childern, they continue to blather, squabble and posture about this issue. I do not know why KMBC is doing this, but I can guess that Sunflower Cablevision (or"Broadband" or whatever they are calling themselves this week) has some serious financial issues of their own due to their customers bailing out for satellite TV because if their already ridiculously high fees, and the transient nature of many of their customers in a one horse college town. But when you are the only "horse" in town, I guess it matters not to how the captive audiance customers are treated, just keep squabbling and bitching and moaning.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years, 3 months ago

And I think it is funny as hell that right above this page there is an advertisement for "Dish Network Satellite TV!!

GetItRight 9 years, 3 months ago

So, this doesn't have anything to do with better marketing for KTKA sales people? Those sales people work for the same company as Sunflower and can now offer exclusive access to Lawrence viewers on ABC. Seems like there may be more to this story....

geniusmannumber1 9 years, 3 months ago

Seriously, what's the difference between the stations? The local news, maybe? And if you're the kind of person who takes the time to watch local news on TV ... perhaps your time could be better spent? Like in learning to dress yourself, or to tie your own shoes?

Alia Ahmed 9 years, 3 months ago

Here's a story that ran in the KC Star about this. It's a obviously a different perspective. There is a poll that Sunflower Cablevision viewers can take about their views on the disruption of coverage from KMBZ. another note, KMBZ is once again being charged with age and gender discrimination toward female anchors (they were infamous for the Christine Craft case many years ago). Currently three anchors and reporters have charged that they have been replaced by younger female anchors whereas male anchors don't have the same experience. Here's a link to a story about that also. in all, not being able to receive KMBZ's signal does deprive me of an opportunity to boycott their station. :~)

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 3 months ago

Logan: That's not news, and definitely not unique to KMBZ. The women who man (no pun intended) the anchor desks at these stations know that they are one set of crow's feet away from being replaced. That's the hard, sad and unfair truth of what consumers like you and I expect from our newcasts. Years ago there was a middle-market "weather-girl" who wore low-cut spandex tops when she did the weather. It was so tight that you didn't need the sound on: you could tell if it was cold by looking at her chest. It's what "we" want, so don't blame KMBZ for having the common business sense to cater to our sexist values.

Alia Ahmed 9 years, 3 months ago

Probably not old enough to be my dad, I understand what you are saying, but it truly is not what I want. I want men and women to be treated fairly and to have competent reporters and anchors reporting the news.

justaverage 9 years, 3 months ago

I think the fact that KTKA (ABC-Topeka) is owned by the World Company which also owns Sunflower Broadband could be an issue with KMBC (ABC-Kansas City). All I really care about is the network programming anyway.

Raider 9 years, 3 months ago

I have DirectTV, so I don't have to worry about this. I get KC news channels. If more people boycotted Sunflower's monopoly over this town then maybe they'd change their business practices.

skinny 9 years, 3 months ago

Why is it Sunflower Cable can put KTKA up in HD but not WIBW in HD?

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