Nexstar Media Group’s cable network WGN America has reached a multi-year comprehensive agreement with Vidgo, and will be carried by the live TV streaming platform beginning on Jan. 15. In the last two months, Nexstar has reached five agreements with subscription-based streaming services for the distribution of WGN America, expanding the network’s reach by 8.5 […]
While the end of the year appeared to be pretty quiet on the retransmission consent front with only a few disputes ongoing in 2021’s first week, 2020 was another record year for blackouts, as 336 TV stations went dark to pay TV customers vs. 278 in the prior year, according to cable industry group the American Television Alliance.
Frontier has told the FCC that its beef with Gray Television is over the value of the TV signal and that Gray’s retransmission consent complaint against Frontier “lacks any basis in fact or law.” Gray formally complained to the FCC that Frontier was not negotiating in good faith and did not give is customers “as soon as possible” notice of a potential blackout, both of which are required under FCC rules.
Cox Media Group TV stations in six markets have gone dark to Suddenlink subscribers in a dispute over retransmission consent fees. The blackout affects viewers in Tulsa, Okla.; Memphis; Spokane, Wash.; Eureka, Calif.; Greenville-Greenwood, Miss.; and Alexandria, La.
There are no winners on the local front when it comes to station blackouts, but stations can maintain goodwill by answering irate viewers’ calls, keeping clients informed and calling viewers when carriage is restored.
Cable One/Sparklight said its customers in the Springfield-Urbana, Ill., area lost access to three GoCom Media stations on Dec. 31 after retransmission consent talks broke down, adding that it is still in talks regarding two other nearby stations owned by Block Communications and Sinclair Broadcast Group. GoCom owns Fox affiliate WSRP-WCCU in Springfield, as well as WBUI (CW) in the same area. The stations are managed by Sinclair through a joint services/shared services agreement.
About 16 Tegna stations in 11 states went dark to Mediacom Communications customers Dec. 31, after the parties failed to reach a retransmission consent agreement. Mediacom said its contract for the stations expired at 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, at which time it was forced to stop carrying the stations, even though it had offered to pay what the cable company called a “significant” increase over its previous agreement. The stations are ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and CW affiliates located in about a dozen states, including Mediacom’s biggest markets in Iowa (Des Moines, Davenport and Ames).
Verizon and Hearst Television reached a distribution agreement to stave off a New Year’s Day blackout of the broadcasting group’s nine channels on Fios TV in five markets. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The telco had alleged Hearst TV was demanding price hikes of more than 45% to carry the local channels. The companies’ previous carriage pact expired Dec. 31.
Per FCC rules, Verizon has started warning Fios customers they may lose access to Hearst Television stations at month’s end. Verizon said Hearst is demanding “unreasonably large” increases in retransmission consent fees that may force Verizon to raise rates for its customers.
The Capitol Broadcasting duopoly has been pulled from the satellite service after a carriage extension expired with no new deal in place.
Mediacom Communications dodged a big retrans bullet on Monday, reaching a carriage agreement with Gray Television that involved stations in more than 35 markets across the country. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) has written FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to stick up for Gray Television’s WWSB Sarasota, Fla., in a retrans fight with Frontier Cable. Citing a failure to reach a retrans agreement with Frontier, WWSB used some in-house news reporting last week to relay that it had been pulled from the cable system Friday (Dec. 18) after WWSB offered to keep the signal on at current terms while they continued to negotiate.
Fox and Sinclair Broadcast Group said they reached an agreement renewing the Fox Broadcasting affiliation for stations in 25 markets. The Sinclair Fox affiliates affected by the deal cover about 11% of U.S. households.
The multi-year deal covers 64 Tegna-owned Stations in 51 markets across the DirecTV, AT&T TV and U-verse video services.
Nexstar Media has begun criticizing Dish Network in commercials on its stations as the retransmission dispute that has blacked out channels in 115 markets enters its third week.
Comcast said it has quietly reached a retransmission consent agreement with Hearst TV stations across the country, including continued carriage of about 35 out-of-market stations in 38 markets that were originally expected to be dropped when the current deal expires on Dec. 31. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Dish Network has announced a multi-year agreement with Cox Media Group to restore 14 stations in 10 markets that had been blacked out on the satellite TV operator’s platforms since July. Dish didn’t announce terms of the agreement with Cox, which is owned by Apollo Global Management. Dish still has 164 Nexstar stations blacked out
Comcast last month posted a notice on its website that 35 local channels in 38 different markets would be dropped on Dec. 22. However, the cable operator has updated the message to say the 35 channels “may” be removed, and that it’s now negotiating with the stations’ owner, Hearst Communications, to keep them.
Four Massachusetts legislators have called on Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Hearst President Jordan Wertlieb to negotiate in good faith and resolve their carriage dispute so that ABC affiliate WCVB Boston stays on Comcast’s system serving Bristol County, Mass., residents.
Retransmission consent battles have become as much of a year-end tradition as eggnog and holly, and 2020 is no different, with at least two disputes brewing and certainly more to come. Tegna and Nexstar kicked off this year’s station negotiation season with blackouts.
Nexstar Media Group TV stations in 120 markets and 42 states as well as WGN America nationwide have gone dark on Dish Network platforms after days of negotiations between the companies failed to yield a deal. In all, 164 stations are offline.
Approximately 60 Tegna television stations were dropped after carriage negotiations failed to reach a new contract Tuesday evening. The old contract between the station group and the satellite and cable provider expired last month and was extended until 7 p.m. ET Tuesday.
The group broadcaster grants a retrans extension to Dec. 1 as talks continue.
The ongoing retransmission consent battle between Dish Network and Nexstar Media Group continued Friday, with the station group claiming that Dish has declined reasonable offers to settle the dispute.
Dish Network and Nexstar Media Group are warning subscribers and viewers of a potential blackout. As with past contract disputes, the companies are blaming the other. In a Thanksgiving news release, Dish said Nexstar is threatening the “largest local station blackout in TV history” that could “black out” customers’ access to “164 local channels in 120 markets across 42 states and the District of Columbia.” The contract between Dish and Nexstar expires Dec. 2, according to Gary Weitman, Nexstar EVP and chief communications officer, who said: “We felt it was important to start advising our viewers who are Dish subscribers of the potential for an interruption in service, since Dish has a history of repeatedly forcing stations off of their system.”
The FCC has voted to speed up the program access, program carriage and retransmission consent complaint resolution process. That came at its virtual November public meeting Wednesday (Nov. 18). The vote was unanimous.
The rise in retransmission fees has more than compensated for the COVID-19 hit on TV station revenue, at least in the early months of the pandemic. That is according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. The report also found that ad revenue for network news–ABC, CBS, and NBC–were actually up in 2Q 2020, while cable news revenue held steady, though only thanks to Fox, whose large increases covered declines at CNN and MSNBC.
The broadcasters involved in the FCC’s first forfeiture order over failure to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith aren’t giving up the fight. The commission voted last month to deny an appeal of the Media Bureau’s determination that a number of station groups failed to negotiate retrans consent in good faith with AT&T, proposing a forfeiture of $512,000 against each station. While the broadcasters argue the FCC should vacate the decision and dismiss the proceeding, at the very least, they want the commission to reduce the amount of proposed forfeitures to $25,000 per station. That would take the proposed penalty from more than $9 million for the 18 stations involved down to a collective $450,000.
Broadcasters would welcome reformation of the outdated newspaper-TV crossownership rule, but the Supreme Court’s decision to hear an appeal of the Third Circuit decision doesn’t solve all the industry’s COVID-induced woes. The FCC still needs to eliminate the Top 4 rule and online video distributors need to be classified as MVPDs.
Dish, which is already involved in seven separate carriage disputes, could lose 18 more stations in 10 markets this week due to yet another fee fight.
One rarely hears about a station group deciding not to pursue lucrative retransmission consent fees but when E.W. Scripps agreed to acquire Ion Media for $2.65 billion, it said the Ion stations would stick to must-carry. Analysts initially said they were surprised by the unusual strategy and asked about it during a conference call in which Scripps executives went over details of the transaction.
Oct. 1 is the FCC’s deadline for TV stations to (1) upload to their online Public Inspection Files their must-carry/retransmission consent carriage election statements for the three-year cycle covering Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2023, and (2) notify MVPDs of any changes to their election status.
The FCC has voted to deny an appeal of its decision that eight station groups failed to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith and has further decided to propose fining each of the 18 stations at issue over $500,000 apiece. It is the first time the FCC has ever issued a forfeiture order for a failure to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith, as its rules require.
Leonard Asper, president & CEO of Anthem Sports & Entertainment, has sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai taking aim at the retransmission consent regime, prompted by the retrans disputes between Dish and Scripps (it was settled last week) and Dish and Cox Media Group (Apollo).
E.W. Scripps released this statement Sunday: “Scripps has reached an agreement with Dish, and all Scripps stations are back on the air for Dish subscribers. We apologize for the disruption in service our viewers experienced and thank them for their loyalty and patience through this period.”
Scripps says Dish is not being honest in their carriage dispute, and further alleges the satcaster is not motivated to settle because it’s making a profit from the blackout. Dish has been without Scripps’ 60 local network affiliates in 42 markets since July 25 when the two companies could not agree on a new carriage pact. The satellite service claims that Scripps is asking for excessive fees to carry its signals, a 250% increase over the previous rate. But in a statement released Monday, Scripps says Dish is not agreeing to a new deal because it does not have to pay the broadcaster during the blackout.
Cable operators are telling the FCC that retrans regulations should apply to carriage negotiations that include ancillary “broadcast internet” services. That came in comments by NCTA-The Internet & Television Association on the FCC’s inquiry into what, if any, rules need to be changed to accommodate broadcaster’s potential new multichannel services using the ATSC 3.0 transmission standard.
Circle City Broadcasting, owner of WISH and WNDY Indianapolis, has filed suit against AT&T, claiming “intentional misconduct” by the cable provider over retrans rates.
Dish subscribers have been blacked out from watching Cox Media Group stations in 10 markets due to a retransmission consent dispute. The stations had been enjoined from interfering with Dish’s ability to retransmit the signals under an agreement reached before Apollo Global Management last year, according to Dish. The case moved from state court in Illinois to federal court, which dissolved the restraining order Wednesday.