Breezeline, CBS Affiliate in Maryland Fail to Reach Agreement

Jan 06, 2024

By Ted Hearn, Editor of Policyband

Washington, D.C., Jan. 5, 2024 – Regional cable company Breezeline is no longer carrying CBS affiliate WBOC in Salisbury, Md., but the TV station is insisting it is not engaged in a classic carriage dispute like the one going on between Tegna and DirecTV.

“Please understand this is not a carriage dispute,” WBOC says on its website. “Breezeline stated it dropped WBOC because we are an ‘out of market’ station to the communities they serve, which are in the Baltimore viewing area as defined by Nielsen Media Research.”

Normally, when a cable company is no longer carrying a TV station, the two sides have failed to achieve “retransmission consent,” and the cable operator by law is no longer authorized to carry the station. Under Federal Communications Commission rules, cable operators may carry TV stations that are significantly viewed outside of their home market, or Designated Market Area (DMA.)

According to Wikipedia, “WBOC-TV (channel 16) is … affiliated with CBS and Fox. It is the flagship television property of the Milton, Delaware–based Draper Holdings Business Trust.”

On its website, WBOC posted the name and email address of a Breezeline employee whom viewers were told to contact to receive a response from the cable company. An email seeking comment was sent to the Breezeline employee early Friday evening, but the official has yet to respond.

Breezeline, a subsidiary of Cogeco Communications in Montreal, Canada, is the eighth-largest cable operator in the U.S. Service areas include parts of Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

Tegna lost carriage on DirecTV on Nov. 30. The dispute involves 64 local stations that are no longer available on DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and U-verse.

In a new proposal, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel wants cable TV companies and satellite TV operators to inform the agency of TV station carriage drops that last longer than 24 hours. 

TV stations, however, will not face the same reporting requirement.