Comporium to continue carrying WIS news

Comporium cable TV customers in York, Lancaster and Chester counties will be able to continue watching WIS-TV, an NBC affiliate station in Columbia.

In an agreement reached Wednesday through an independent negotiation consulting company, WIS has allowed Comporium to broadcast the station at no cost, said Glenn McFadden, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Comporium.

McFadden said originally Comporium had an agreement with Raycom Communications, which owns WBT and WIS, allowing Comporium to broadcast WBT, but not WIS.

Wednesday morning, the consulting company sent an amendment to the original agreement allowing Comporium also to broadcast WIS, McFadden said.

In York and Lancaster counties and in Fort Lawn, all WIS local news will be broadcast on cable Channel 2.

Donita Todd, general manager of WIS Columbia, said Raycom was never at odds with Comporium over broadcasting WIS.

"The exhibiting agreement, apparently it covered both stations, but it wasn't clear for them," she said.

Todd said an adjustment to the agreement was sent to Comporium early Wednesday to clear up the confusion concerning the broadcast of WIS.

Todd said the station has received numerous phone calls from Comporium cable customers.

"It's unfortunate nobody cleared that up before it went to press and upset customers," Todd said.

McFadden said customers called Comporium on Wednesday morning, upset when they thought they would no longer be able to view WIS. Many said they watched the WIS news broadcast because they had college-age children in Columbia, McFadden said.

"We are happy that it worked out that way. We certainly recognize it's good to have them as a partner," McFadden said, referring to WIS.

In the past, broadcast channels were carried by cable companies at no charge. Comporium picked up the signal from broadcast channels by antennas and rebroadcast them, McFadden said. Under new FCC regulations, broadcast stations have been granted the right to charge for the signal.

Comporium successfully negotiated rates to carry the seven Charlotte broadcast stations, WSOC (ABC), WCNC (NBC), WBTV (CBS), WCCB (Fox), WMYT, WJZY and WAXN, McFadden said.

Because Comporium will continue to offer the Charlotte broadcast stations, McFadden said the company will add an additional fee to customer's cable bills. The charge will take effect in March and will be less than $2 per month, he said.

There will not be an additional charge to Comporium customers to continue viewing WIS, McFadden said.

More contact with WSPA-TV

Comporium has not reached an agreement with WSPA-TV, a CBS affiliate out of Spartanburg, which airs on cable Channel 7 in York County and parts of Chester County near the York County line, McFadden said. Comporium stopped broadcasting WSPA Wednesday night. Viewers tuning in to Channel 7 will see a blue screen with a scroll containing information about the channel's changes. The station will be replaced by WNSC-SCETV on Friday.

McFadden said he's also received complaints from Comporium cable customers because they no longer will be able to watch programs carried by WSPA, including various sports broadcasts and the First Baptist Church of Spartanburg's Sunday service.

"We're going to contact them and tell them what WIS has done, and hopefully that will change things," McFadden said about WSPA.

Officials with WSPA could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

An official with First Baptist Church of Spartanburg said the church will do everything it can so people can continue to view the ministry.

"We have DVDs we can send to folks," said Britt Dillard, minister of media for the church. "We send them out every week to people."

To get a DVD, Dillard said to visit the church's Web site at www.theencouragingword.org or call its toll free number 866-899-9673.

Dillard said he was saddened but not surprised that WSPA no longer will air in York County and parts of Chester County.

"It's happening more and more where cable affiliates feel Spartanburg is too far away," he said.

Other options

Dotsy McElveen, a Rock Hill Comporium cable customer, said because Comporium has dropped WSPA, a station she watched for sports and other programs, she is looking for alternatives to cable TV.

"I called, and I have DirecTV scheduled to come out next week," she said. "It's time for other choices."

In addition to the discontinuation of WSPA, McElveen said she's unhappy about the rate increase.

"How often is this going to happen?" she said. "Are our rates going to go up annually in order for them to provide us with any television at all?"