Cox cable customers who tried to tune in to KOLD Channel 13 today 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, said KOLD general manager Debbie Bush.

“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 Wednesday.

Raycom renewed its contract with Comcast, so that service was unaffected.

Raycom started meeting with Cox in October, McTear said.

Cox's website said Raycom is asking for a 220 percent increase over its current rate.

“We’re trying to keep the cost of cable television reasonable,” Cox Vice President Lisa Lovallo said. “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 2 cents a day increase.”

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

Read more of this story in tomorrow's Arizona Daily Star.