WFSB returns to channel lineup in Milford, Orange, Woodbridge

Optimum cable subscribers got some welcome news: WFSB has returned to their channel lineup.

Programming from the Rocky Hill television station, which is owned by media giant Meredith Corp., returned to Optimum cable systems in Connecticut just before 1:30 p.m. Friday.

A dispute over the contract that allows WFSB to be rebroadcast on Optimum cable system in 24 Connecticut communities — including Milford, Orange and Woodbridge and eight in Litchfield County — had kept subscribers from seeing the CBS affiliate since Jan. 13.

Optimum is the cable television brand of the Altice Group.

Terms of the deal were not released by either side in the negotiations, even though the amount of money WFSB was seeking in a new contract was identified as a central issue in the dispute.

Altice officials, in a statement Friday, thanked customers for their patience and loyalty “as we worked to reach to a fair agreement that reflects our commitment to keeping costs down for consumers.”

“Altice USA notes that it has reached retransmission deals and carriage agreements with more than a dozen programmers and broadcasters over the last few months. Skyrocketing programming costs, particularly those charged by broadcasters, are the greatest contributor to rising cable bills.”

Klarn DePalma, vice president and general manager of WFSB, said in a statement that station officials “are glad to have worked this out with Altice/Optimum so that their customers can now enjoy the NCAA tournament, the Masters and other marquee CBS and local programming.”

“We have worked hard to restore WFSB to all of their customers in Connecticut,” DePalma said.

News of the settlement agreement came just days after state Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, stepped up efforts to get the Federal Communications Commission involved in the dispute.

Slossberg had contacted representatives of Meredith Corp. and the Altice Group recently in an effort to convince them to ask the FCC to intervene. Slossberg said after contacting the FCC in January about the dispute she was told it would only get involved after a request.

Slossberg said news of the settlement was welcome.

“It is outrageous that this blackout has gone on for so long, but I am very happy to announce that it is coming to an end,” she said.

“Since January my office has been flooded with calls and emails from residents of Milford, Orange and Woodbridge who wanted to know why they were being punished by these companies, and what they could do about it. Together we got angry, we got organized, we spoke out and we won.”

Slossberg said both companies “should compensate customers in the affected towns for the diminished service they have received since January.”

Slossberg’s district covers Milford, Orange, Woodbridge and part of West Haven. She had mounted a petition drive calling for an end to the dispute that had several hundred signatures.

Call Luther Turmelle at 203-680-9388.