Cox Communications. Photo credit: engadget.com

CBS8 was not available to Cox Communications subscribers in the San Diego region for a short time on Friday, due to a dispute over a new contract, but the station was back on by the afternoon when a deal was reached.

Television viewers attempting to tune into the station on Cox cable found a message — in English and Spanish — reading: “This station is demanding a significant fee increase for this channel and has pulled it from Cox viewers. Visit www.coxcommitment.com for the latest information.”

Both the station and cable company posted messages on their websites explaining their positions after the contract expired at midnight. CBS8 asked viewers to call Cox to ask them to be put back on, while the cable firm contended the station owner, Midwest Television, was demanding too much money, which would drive up subscriber costs.

Later in the day, Cox issued a statement saying that an agreement was reached and expressed regret for the disruption.

“CBS 8 is a third generation, family and locally owned CBS affiliate dedicated to serving the San Diego community for 67 years,” a message on its website says. “We are working diligently to reach a fair agreement.”

In a statement, Cox said station owner Midwest Television Inc. was “withholding their programming because Cox won’t give them a price increase that is more than double the fees we currently pay over the term of the agreement for programming that is available free over the air. Excessive increases — like the one that Midwest is demanding — increase cable bills every year.”

CBS8 produces local news programs, carries popular CBS shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and broadcasts most Chargers football games.

The station said viewers can try using an over-the-air antenna, sign up for CBS All Access streaming service at cbs.com/watch or switch to another TV provider.

The outage also was affecting MeTV, a cable channel that airs reruns of popular older television shows like “Perry Mason” and “The Twilight Zone.”

—City News Service

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