Spokesman: Breezeline Dropped CBS Affiliate WBOC To Manage Costs
By Ted Hearn, Editor of Policyband
Washington, D.C., Jan. 9, 2024 – A cable company’s decision to drop a rural Maryland CBS affiliate on New Year’s Day was mostly about trimming costs from the programming budget.
Breezeline, a regional cable TV and broadband company, dropped WBOC as 2023 came to a close, ending a 15-year relationship.
WBOC, based in Salisbury, Md., was carried in a small portion of the Baltimore television market under an out-of-market agreement permitted under Federal Communications Commission rules.
Breezeline decided that paying for both Baltimore CBS affiliate WJZ and WBOC no longer made economic sense.
“.. All Breezeline TV viewers would have been burdened with the cost of both channels when the content on WBOC substantially duplicates that found on WJZ,” Breezeline spokesman Andrew Walton said in a Jan. 9 email.
Breezeline started to notify customers two months ago that WBOC would no longer be carried on its Grasonville, Md., lineups effective Dec. 31.
Breezeline also opted out of WBOC carriage because the station’s local programming was available on the station's website for free, Walton said.
“Given this, Breezeline decided to discontinue carriage to manage costs on behalf of our customers,” Walton said.
Yesterday, Craig Jahelka, President of Draper Media, owner of WBOC, said the company was “very surprised” by Breezeline’s decision, which cost the station about 9,400 cable households. “We cover news here every day.”
Breezeline’s decision needed to be seen within the context of the company’s ongoing struggle to cope with the pressures of rising programming costs, Walton said.
“We understand the disappointment that some Grasonville customers feel about WBOC,” Walton said. “With our TV offering, we strive to provide a comprehensive array of high-quality content to appeal to diverse tastes. While there is constant pressure on rates because of large, ongoing increases in content costs, we work to manage costs where possible to make sure our video service provides a strong value for customers,” Walton said.
Cord cutting has negatively impacted Breezeline's cable TV business. The company has about 289,000 U.S. cable TV subscribers after losing about 21,000 subscribers since January, 2022, according to Leichtman Research Group.
Breezeline is a subsidiary of Cogeco Communications in Montreal, Canada. Its service areas include portions of Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.