Cox cable customers who tried to tune in to KOLD Channel 13 Tuesday found the station was off the air.

Cox and KOLD parent Raycom were unable to reach an agreement on a retransmission contract by Dec. 31, and Cox cut off the station, KOLD General Manager Debbie Bush said. "We will continue to negotiate as long as Cox will negotiate with us," she said.

"I hope this is going to be a very short interruption," said Raycom CEO Paul McTear. He hoped negotiations would resume today.

This is the first time in Raycom's 15-year history that it hasn't been able to reach agreement with a cable company, McTear added.

Other companies, including Comcast, agreed to the new rate.

Raycom started meeting with Cox in October, McTear said.

Cox's website said Raycom is asking for a 220 percent increase.

"We're trying to keep the cost of cable television reasonable," Cox Vice President Lisa Lovallo said Monday.

"If we were forced to pay what Raycom is demanding, our customers' bills would be affected. We understand that advertising and businesses like broadcast television that rely on it for profit are having a hard time in the current economy. That doesn't mean our customers should have to make up the difference."

McTear disagreed with Lovallo's description of the problem. "Cox has made a big deal out of the percentage increase," he said. "What we're asking for is less than a 2-cents-a-day increase."

The stalled negotiations also affected Raycom stations in Cleveland; Baton Rouge, La.; Panama City, Fla.; and other cities.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 573-4346.