Super news in time for Super Bowl
» SEE ALSO: Fans snap up big TVs for Sunday's big game
AN estimated 25,000 Hawaii households will get the Super Bowl in high-definition on cable Sunday, due to an agreement reached locally between KGMB-TV and Oceanic Time Warner Cable yesterday.
"We're extremely pleased and very happy to announce that we've successfully reached an agreement with Oceanic Time Warner Cable -- and we will be broadcasting the Super Bowl in high-definition television to everyone in Hawaii who is capable of receiving the signal," said Rick Blangiardi, general manager of KGMB.
Norman Santos, vice president of operations for Oceanic was also "happy" about the development, financial terms of which were not disclosed.
Oceanic will activate Channel 937 for KGMB-HD at about 8:30 a.m., in advance of the network's pre-game shows. KGMB-HD will go dark at about 7:30 p.m., following a KGMB-TV special about the UH Warrior football season, Santos said.
The station said earlier in the week that the CBS HD broadcast of the game would not be carried on cable, after Oceanic President Nate Smith went out of town, making it seem impossible to get the deal done in time, Blangiardi said.
Both companies have been inundated with encouragement, requests and demands for the big game in HD.
"None of us wanted to create that kind of ill will. Both companies are focused on ... the happiness of the people of Hawaii," Blangiardi said.
KGMB's HD broadcasts are available over the air to specifically equipped HDTV sets. However, Hawaii's topography prevents most viewers from receiving the signal, necessitating a subscription to HD service from Oceanic or a direct broadcast satellite company such as DISH Network or DirecTV.
KGMB is carried by both satellite providers, but there have been no HD discussions with either of them, Blangiardi said.
THE Super Bowl deal is just for the one day. Meanwhile, KGMB is the only major network affiliate whose HD broadcasts don't have a permanent cable channel.
It is the local manifestation of a national issue between broadcasters and multichannel distributors, such as cable and satellite companies.
"Negotiations are ongoing," said Maureen Huff, director of corporate communications at Time Warner.
"Conversations are continuing," said Ray Schonbak, acting president of the television division of Indiana-based Emmis Communications Corp., which owns KGMB.
At issue is broadcasters' increasing insistence that they receive compensation from multichannel distributors for the content stations provide. Cable companies resist, arguing that broadcasters use airwaves owned by the public.
Cable companies do pay for programming -- but historically, not to traditional broadcasters.
In 2003, Georgia-based cable company Cox Communications Inc., did battle with ESPN over the $2.61 per-subscriber rate ESPN charged Cox. Cox claimed that ESPN accounted for four percent of its viewership across 30 states, but the rate made up 18 percent of fees Cox paid its networks.
The issue has become white-hot, with the expiration of a retransmission agreement between Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and New York-based Mediacom Communications Corp.
On Jan. 5, Sinclair ordered Mediacom to stop retransmitting the signals of its stations in 12 states, affecting 2 million viewers. The battle has been public and ugly and is unresolved, despite pleas to the Federal Communications Commission and members of Congress, including Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye.
Sinclair has since reached a retransmission agreement with Time Warner Cable for 35 of its stations in 22 markets serving 6 million subscribers.
Officials at Emmis hope the Sinclair-Time Warner agreement and the local deal will pave a path to permanent placement of KGMB-HD on Oceanic.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com