An 11th hour agreement between Fox Broadcasting Company and Max Media of Montana will allow local viewers to keep up with their weekly fix of “The Simpsons” and “American Idol.”
The deal comes days before a nationwide switch to digital television on June 12. Currently, Little Rock, Ark.-based Equity Media Holdings is responsible for all Fox content in Missoula. The company, however, declared bankruptcy in December and lacks the funds to update its broadcasting equipment, according to Linda Gray, president of Max Media Montana. Without the agreement, Fox’s channel would go dark in Missoula.
Equity officials weren’t available for comment.
Gray says Max Media, which owns Missoula’s ABC affiliate, has purchased some of the physical assets from Equity, but is not buying the Fox station. Instead, the company will simply broadcast Fox content and handle sales for the station’s programming.
“The easiest comparison is, you know how CBS and CW are broadcasting together? We’ll be ABC and Fox in all of our ABC markets,” Gray says.
Despite the fact that the digital switch affects every station in America, Scott Grogin, senior vice president of communications at the Fox Network Group, says the Missoula situation is an anomaly.
“This is not a common occurrence,” he says. “It is specific to your market.”
Gray says the channel will continue to broadcast the most popular Fox programs and that viewers should notice little change in the weekly lineup. As for switching Fox content to a digital feed, she also expects limited problems.
“If they have cable or satellite,” Gray says, “I don’t anticipate at this time that they’ll have any problems.”