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MASON CITY | Due to a contract dispute between Mediacom and KIMT, Mediacom’s contract to carry the local CBS station expired at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

By law, Mediacom can no longer carry KIMT and KIMT-DT2 on its cable systems, according to a statement released by KIMT. The station is still available over the air and on satellite systems.

Mediacom was showing programming from other networks including CBS Sports on Channel 3 and 803-HD in the Mason City area Tuesday evening.

The statement on KIMT's website said, "We are disappointed in the outcome of our negotiations, especially since we have successfully reached deals with every major cable, satellite and telecommunications company that recognizes our fair market value.

"Without fair and equitable treatment, local TV stations will not be able to continue to provide top quality news, sports, entertainment, and other local programming."

The statement asks viewers to call Mediacom and ask for KIMT programming to be restored.

A statement issued by Mediacom said, "A blackout is an increasingly common negotiation tactic that channel owners use to force cable and satellite companies to pay unreasonable rate increases during contract renewals."

According to Mediacom, Media General, the owner of more than a dozen stations including KIMT, "believes that by holding Mediacom customers hostage they can extract a higher price for their product than if they relied on objective criteria to value their stations such as ratings, quality of content, etc."

The cable company said increasing prices charged by local network affiliates "are by far our fastest growing wholesale cost component" and contribute to increased cable service prices.

"After extensive negotiations toward a new agreement, Media General is still demanding more than double the per-subscriber price paid under the prior contract," Mediacom said.

Efforts to contact KIMT management were unsuccessful Tuesday night.

The station's website lists a phone number for people to reach KIMT. A call to that phone number, 800-643-0860, was answered by a woman who said she had no information and that her job was to take calls from angry viewers.

The KIMT website said the station is continuing to negotiate with Medicom. It said viewers can continue to watch local programming via antenna or by switching to alternative pay-TV providers which are listed on the KIMT webpage.

According to Mediacom, the cable company was willing to leave the stations on while contract negotiations continue, "but in an attempt to force Mediacom to accept a bad deal, Media General has resorted to using a blackout to hold our customers hostage."

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