Any individual can watch our programming for FREE with the use of an antenna but we don't allow anyone to carry our programming and resell it to the public without fair compensation.

This right to negotiate for fair compensation was authorized by Congress in 1992. The 1992 Cable Act, also known as the retransmission consent process, was in large part designed to ensure that local TV stations would be able to enhance their local news and community service efforts. Our local news operation is by far the largest single expense of the television station, as it should be. We provide many hours of local news each week. Again, our agreements with operators such as Charter support our ability to provide local news and other programming.

Q. What will we be missing if WISC-TV is not available on Charter?

We produce nearly 25 hours of local news each week covering the issues important to Madison and the surrounding communities. In addition, we broadcast CBS’ award-winning and highly-rated news, sports and entertainment programming including NFL football, NCAA basketball, 60 Minutes, The Big Bang Theory, NCIS and CSI just to name a few.

Q. Won’t Charter just add another CBS affiliate?

In short, they can't. WISC-TV3 is the local affiliate for an 11-county area in southern Wisconsin. It's called a Designated Marketing Area or DMA. If you live in Dane, Rock, Green, Lafayette, Grant, Iowa, Richland, Sauk, Columbia, Marquette or Juneau County, WISC-TV3 is your local CBS affiliate

Q. Why wouldn't the local TV station grant an extension of the negotiation period to the operator so its programming continues to be seen?

An extension is possible and makes the most sense when both parties feel they are close enough to reaching agreement that additional good faith negotiations are likely to resolve open issues. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

If the negotiation has been on-going for a long period (sometimes including extensions), the station or cable operator may feel more than enough time has been spent discussing contract terms.

If the sides are just so far apart that resolution seems unlikely, cable companies do sometimes drop TV stations from their systems until an agreement is reached.
We are keenly aware that viewers then become caught in the middle of a business dispute. This is a bad outcome for both the station and the cable operator.

Q. Doesn't this just come down to money?

Everyone expects to be paid for the work they do. Our viewers rely on us to provide quality local reporting, to perform community service and to provide up-to-date coverage of the weather, emergency information, sports, elections, and other local issues. We also bring our viewers quality entertainment from CBS and other program providers. We must invest millions of dollars annually to do this--most of which goes into local wages, programming and technical improvements to serve our local community. Our agreements with operators such as Charter provide important support to our local operation. And again, Charter re-sells our programming to you. It's only fair that we receive a fair portion of the fee they charge you for our service.

Q. Why is this happening to WISC-TV3, but not with the other TV stations in the area?

Each broadcaster has its own agreement with Charter that may expire at different times and we can only speak to our own situation. WISC-TV3 is not privy to the negotiations with others in the market.

Q. How do I get in touch with someone at Charter to express my opinion?

You can call Charter customer service center at 1-888-438-2427 or contact them online at

Q. Do I need to call WISC-TV3 again after contacting Charter?

No. While we appreciate your input and welcome your comments, it is not necessary to contact us after you have contacted Charter. Just make sure your voice is heard at Charter. If you wish to share your thoughts with us, you can contact us at