Comcast customers in five cities will soon lose access to a San Francisco television station.
Comcast plans to drop San Francisco FOX affiliate KTVU from cable systems in Vacaville, Fairfield, Yuba City, Rio Vista and Tracy. Customers stationed at Travis Air Force Base in Solano County will also lose access to the channel.
Those cities fall within the Sacramento-Stockton market, where KTXL serves as the area’s FOX affiliate. Comcast has provided KTVU and other Bay Area news stations to subscribers in those areas as a courtesy to viewers who wanted to receive Bay Area news and community programming along the Sacramento stations.
A FCC regulation regarding local television stations and syndicated TV programming means a television station in one market can ask cable and satellite companies to stop carrying a channel from another market. A Comcast spokesperson recently told the Vacaville Reporter newspaper that the national FOX network appears to have asked Comcast to stop carrying KTVU in areas where KTXL is available over the air.
“Comcast does not define the television market,” Comcast spokesperson Bryan Byrd said in a statement. “The boundaries for television markets, or “DMAs” (Designated Market Areas), are set by Nielsen Media Research and utilized by the Federal Communications Commission…even though affected areas may feel like they belong to a different DMA, we have to abide by the official DMA boundaries.”
Comcast says KTVU will no longer be available in the five cities starting October 29. The cable company has started referring customers to KTXL for national FOX programming and KTVU’s website and mobile apps for KTVU news programming.
A spokesperson for KTVU did not return an email from The Desk by Friday afternoon.
Last month, Comcast announced they would stop carrying two Sacramento television stations in Butte County at the request of two Chico stations. Comcast said subscribers in Butte County would lose access to KOVR (CBS) and KCRA (NBC) on October 22.
Neither Sacramento stations challenged Chico-based KHSL (CBS) and KNVN (NBC) in their requests to have KOVR and KCRA removed from Comcast in Butte County. Instead, KOVR instructed Butte County residents to erect large rooftop antennas to receive its broadcast signals from Sacramento.