Injunction keeps WPGA on Cox lineup

A Bibb County Superior Court judge has upheld an injunction that will allow television station WPGA to stay on the Cox Communications channel lineup until the case is heard by the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Cox had been scheduled to drop WPGA from its lineup Sunday, but the Friday injunction changes that plan.

Cox spokeswoman Mary Bowman said Monday that Cox still plans to drop WPGA should the Court of Appeals rule in its favor once more.

Last month, Cox won a Superior Court ruling that seemingly ended the dispute. Cox gave WPGA a 30-day notice that it would drop the station from its cable lineup.

The judge ruled then that because the contract between Cox and WPGA is a “retransmission consent” agreement, it gives the cable company the choice of which stations it wants to carry.

WPGA had tried unsuccessfully to argue that it is a “must carry” station and that Cox has no right to drop it from the lineup. WPGA has lost twice in Superior Court and once already with the Georgia Court of Appeals. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission ruled in December that it wouldn’t interject itself in the dispute, meaning Cox’s retransmission agreement with WPGA would stand.

The dispute between WPGA and Cox began Jan. 1, 2010, when WPGA stopped carrying ABC’s programming because it didn’t want to pay $500,000 to the network.

Cox wants the spot WPGA currently occupies in its lineup -- channels 6 and 1006 -- for WGXA, which now broadcasts ABC programming in Middle Georgia. Cox officials said they will use the extra bandwidth from moving ABC from channels 15 and 1015 for other high-demand cable channels for Cox subscribers.

WGXA, which also carries Fox programming in Middle Georgia, stepped in to broadcast ABC programming as well. WPGA now carries syndicated programming, ranging from classic shows such as “M*A*S*H” and “Mission Impossible” to reruns of current TV shows like “30 Rock” and “The Office.” A Bibb County Superior Court judge dismissed WPGA’s original lawsuit in 2010, and the state’s Court of Appeals upheld that decision in June 2011.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.