A court hearing in an ongoing dispute between cable provider Cox Communications and Macon TV station WPGA-TV scheduled for Friday has been postponed indefinitely pending the outcome of a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the station against Cox.
The two parties are in dispute about whether Cox must carry WPGA, and if so, where on its digital lineup.
The motion to dismiss was filed by the cable provider last month.
Lynn Murphey, vice president of Cox Communications, said a Superior Court judge has 90 days to rule on the motion, meaning it could be as late as mid-April before there’s a ruling on the dismissal request.
In the event that the judge rules in Cox’s favor, WPGA would still be able to appeal the decision. If the judge decides not to dismiss the case, the original hearing to decide if Cox would continue to carry WPGA on channels 6 and 706 in its lineup would continue.
Currently, a temporary restraining order that keeps WPGA in those spots on the lineup remains in effect until the judge rules. The hearing that was scheduled for Friday would have decided whether to extend the temporary restraining order indefinitely.
The dispute between Cox and WPGA has been going on for months after the station announced it would no longer carry ABC’s programming.
Lowell Register, president of Register Communications, which owns WPGA, contends that his station operates under the Federal Communications Commission’s “must carry” rules, which means that Cox would have to continue to carry the station on channels 6 and 706, where the station has historically had a home.
WPGA has switched to a format of syndicated programming and “retro” TV shows.
But Cox contends that its agreement is a “retransmission” agreement, which means it wouldn’t have to carry the station at all.
Cox wants channels 6 and 706 for ABC’s programming, which is currently being seen on channels 15 and 715. WGXA-TV, which broadcasts FOX programming in Middle Georgia, added ABC’s programming Jan. 1.
Should the court rule in Cox’s favor, Murphey said ABC programming would revert back to channels 6 and 706, while Cox is reviewing its options for 15 and 715.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.