At first it was gas. Then it was meat. Now it’s local TV channels.

At least two TV news channels have been completely offline since Thursday in what cybersecurity experts are calling a ransomware attack on their parent company.

ABC subsidiary WFTV in Orlando, Fla. And NBC subsidiary WPXI in Pittsburgh, both owned by Cox Media Group, were asked by managers on Thursday to shut down the company’s computers and phones.

“We can only communicate with each other via private phones and SMS,” said a WFTV employee who was not authorized to speak for the company and not to be named.

So far, both broadcasters could still put together local programs, but were limited in their options. Cox did not respond to requests for comment. But the event appeared to be the most recent U.S. ransomware incident in which hackers infect a network and hold its files hostage while demanding payment, said Allan Liska, an analyst with the cybersecurity firm …

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