On Friday night, PlayStation Vue started to notify subscribers that Tribune’s Fox affiliates were being dropped from the OTT service after failing to “come to an agreement on terms” with the station group.
The Coastal Television ABC affiliate will begin carrying the Fox schedule on a subchannel beginning this Saturday.
For the first time since TV networks have been simultaneously streaming the Super Bowl along with their traditional linear airing of the game, a network will be featuring local advertising from their TV affiliates in the digital broadcast. Fox said its Fox Sports Go digital platform will offer Super Bowl LI, live as a non-authenticated stream with local advertising, partnering with more than 170 Fox affiliates around the country.
After getting a look at what the network plans for its fall schedule, the affiliates held a closed-door session without Fox officials, during which they discussed the apparently vexing issue of how to increase the leverage of the affiliate body in its dealings with Fox, particularly the terms Fox demands at affiliation-renewal time. And the closed-door session revealed a palpable undercurrent of worry about the future vitality of the network-affiliate relationship as alternative means of distributing network programming are developed — means such as on-line streaming scenarios in which broadcasters would play no role.
Meeting in Las Vegas, the affiliates hear good news on the network’s break-out hit and talk about how to hasten progress on the new TV Everywhere offering.
The station groups agree not to fight the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger with a series of conditions that would bar Comcast from discriminating in favor of NBCU-owned or operated stations over retransmission consent — and other issues — for 10 years after the TWC deal closes.
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They met in Dallas Thursday. Some Fox affiliates are said to be concerned that Fox wants to shift from a multi-year reverse comp agreement to an annual one, with the new agreement based on DMA households instead of MVPD households as in the past, a source with knowledge of the situation says.
“There were things that [Fox] showed us today that I think makes us optimistic and confident that Fox is going to get this thing turned around and we’ll get back to a position of dominance that they and we have enjoyed for so long,” said Raycom’s Jeff Rosser, chairman of the Fox affiliates board.
While last year’s affiliates meeting focused on the divisive issue of reverse comp, this year things were decidedly upbeat.
Steve Pruett, CEO of the CCA station group and chairman of the Fox affiliate board, says the network’s plan to program Saturday nights this fall with live sports is another demonstration of its desire to excel. “Fox is not throwing any night away.”
Low-power WHPM is owned by Mike Reed’s Waypoint Media, which also owns the market’s WGBC (NBC) and operates WMDN Meridian, Miss. (CBS).
After relations between the network and its affiliates grew increasingly contentious, thanks largely to programming fee demands from Fox, the network and the stations are trying to get the relationship back on track, beginning with a meeting this week in Los Angeles.
Several station representatives come away from the meeting of Fox affiliates dismayed over the network’s continuing hard-line stance on retrans sharing. One manager said Fox repeated that it would no longer try to negotiate with the affiliate board, and reiterated that individual stations would have to agree to Fox’s price tag or risk losing their affiliation. “It sounded like a threat to me.”
Can one ever have enough leverage — particularly if you’re at a station negotiating with a network bent on grabbing a slice of your retransmission consent revenue? Here are some creative ideas on different ways to make Fox listen to reason.
While the just-announced FCC review of its retransmission consent rules doesn’t include commission intervention when talks fail, there are some things broadcasters need to be wary of. Most important is the proposal to eliminate the non-dupe rule. Without it, cable systems would be able to import an affiliate from a another market to replace one that it loses in a retrans dispute with impunity.
Fox quietly paid to fly one promotion exec from each of its affiliates to Los Angeles earlier this week for an X-Factor meeting that featured an appearance by Simon Cowell.
The network sent a letter to the individual affiliates saying it has made no progress negotiating a retrans sharing deal with the affiliate board. So now it wants to negotiate with the stations individually, adding that if a station doesn’t agree with its demands for a cut of their retrans dollars “Fox will have to pursue different distribution channels to receive fair value for our programming and continue to serve our viewers.” Affiliate board Chairman Brian Brady counters that Fox has failed to negotiate in good faith and is engaged in a “divide-and-conquer” strategy.