Moonves Says Affils Too Soft On Retrans

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves yesterday took aim at its affiliates who negotiate bad deals, TV ratings measurement and marketers who don’t pay enough. “We the networks should not be penalized because you the station do not negotiate retrans properly,” he said. Moonves, who has a goal of reaping some $2 billion in retransmission fees by 2020, threw down the gauntlet to the leaders of non-owned CBS stations to get those dollars in his pocket — or else.

UPDATED 11:05 AM ET

‘Local Choice’ Gone From Senate STAVRA Bill

The retrans reform proposal for a la carte channel selection is removed from the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act. NAB applauds the decision, saying: “NAB is thankful for the consideration Senate Commerce Committee members gave the ‘Local Choice’ proposal and for recognizing the unintended negative consequences this measure would have had on localism, broadcasters and our millions of viewers.”

RETRANS

Raycom Fires Back at DirecTV

After being blindsided by a DirecTV attack on Sunday, Raycom yesterday fired back at the satcaster, suggesting it put profits ahead of its customers during the companies’ recent fee fight.

RETRANS

Raycom Reaches Agreement With DirecTV

The group owner’s stations are back on the satellite service after being gone since Sept. 1.

TVN FORECAST 2015 WEBINAR

Nets’ Share Of Affils’ Retrans Fees To Hit 65%

Stations’ retransmission consent revenues have been rising steadily for the past decade and for much of that time, network affiliates retained more than half, with the rest going to the networks. But over the past several years, Big 4 networks have demanded — and received — an increasingly bigger chunk. Now, Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker is predicting the networks’ take could hit 65% of stations’ $12 billion in retrans money by 2019.

DMA 51 (NEW ORLEANS)

WDSU, Cox Reach Retrans Agreement

Steve Sawyer, Cox spokesman in New Orleans, and Joel Vilmenay, president-GM of Hearst Television’s New Orleans NBC affiliate WDSU, confirmed that retrans negotiations were resolved without a blackout over the weekend.

CBS Radio Rejects ATVA ‘Local Choice’ Ads

CBS radio stations around the country have refused to air a new ad from the American Television Alliance that supports the retrans reform proposal called “local choice” that was recently proposed by Sens. Jay Rockefeller and John Thune.

JESSELL AT LARGE

Local Choice Sure Isn’t The Logical Choice

The latest retrans reform plan advocating an a la carte system of payment by cable subs for broadcast channels would harm broadcasters and I’m not sure it benefits anybody other than some small cable operators. A better solution is for Congress to pass a law saying that if pay TV operators and broadcasters cannot agree on a retrans fee, the matter would be settled by so-called pendulum arbitration — just like in baseball.

Rockefeller-Thune Would Overhaul Retrans

Their “Local Choice” plan would, in effect, let cable and satellite customers order TV stations on an a la carte basis, paying the stations’ price, thereby eliminating the retrans negotiation process.

WNWO In Retrans Deal With Buckeye Cable

The two-year agreement returns the Sinclair NBC affiliate to Buckeye systems in Toledo, where it’s been dark for seven months.

Retrans Language Absent From Satellite Bill

Legislation passed today by the House Judiciary Committee lacks pay TV-backed retransmission consent reforms. The committee’s vote means that the legislation at issue — which would reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, or STELA — has now gotten the nod of three of the key congressional committees with a say on the legislation.

SNL KAGAN TV & RADIO FINANCE SUMMIT

Retrans Rev Seen Hitting $7.6B By 2019

According to SNL Kagan research, retrans revenue is also becoming a rapidly growing share of station group’s total revenue. Among the 18 groups covered in the research, the share ranged from 24% (Meredith) to 10% (Scripps) in 2013.

RETRANSMISSION CONSENT

Wheeler ‘Concerned’ Over Online Blackouts

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler tells Congress that broadcasters’ blocking pay TV subs access to online content during retrans negotiations concerns him. Wheeler did not tell lawmakers during the hearing what retrans blackouts had specifically raised his concerns, or what in particular he planned to do about it.

Deadlines Set On New Joint Retrans Rule

June 18 will mark the beginning of the FCC ban on top 4 stations in a market doing joint retrans negotiations, while legal challenges to the rule must be filed in court by July 18.

Block Seeks Limited FCC Retrans Intervention

Block Communications, owner of TV stations, newspapers and cable systems says larger broadcasters and cable operators need to be reined in. It suggests the FCC increase its existing powers to ensure that broadcasters and pay TV operators negotiate retrans deals in good faith. Block also suggests that the FCC limit its intervention to retrans cases in which the pay TV operator serves fewer than 400,000 subs and the TV station group owns or operates at least 25 TV stations — or in which the pay TV operator serves more than 1.5 million subs and the broadcaster owns or operates five or fewer TV stations.

TV Group Pursues New Front In Retrans Fight

TVFreedom, a broadcast front group formed in response to the American Television Alliance, a cable and satellite front group, is leveraging consumer hatred of rising cable bills in a bid to derail the ongoing spat around broadcast retransmission fees.

SNL Kagan: Cable Retrans Fees On Rise

Retrans fees paid by basic cable networks are still a fraction of overall network/programming carriage fees paid by cable networks. But those retrans fees are expected to rise quickly. SNL Kagan says broadcast fees amounted to 8.9% or $3.3 billion of the $37.3 billion in total revenue of cable operators pay basic cable networks and regional sports networks.

Hearst And Dish Reach Retrans Agreement

Hearst Television announced Wednesday that it has reached a retransmission consent agreement with Dish Network covering carriage of Hearst Television stations in the 25 Hearst Television markets. In a statement, the company said:  “We appreciate the support and patience of our viewers, advertisers and local communities served by our stations. We regret the inconvenience they’ve experienced over the past several hours.  We are pleased the interruption was brief and that our stations have been restored on Dish Network systems.”

RETRANS WARS

Hearst Stations Blacked Out On Dish Network

More than two dozen network-affiliated Hearst Television stations went dark on the satcaster Tuesday night after the sides hit a wall in their retransmission talks. Dish Network’s carriage deal with Hearst TV expired March 1, but the parties had extended the deadline to last night at 10 p.m. ET. The blackout affects more than two dozen Hearst stations including ABC affil WCVB Boston (DMA 7), and outlets in top 25 markets Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Tampa.

NAB 2014

Retrans Looking Less Likely As Part Of STELA

Grace Koh, a House Energy and Commerce Committee staffer,says: “We have made it very clear in the House side that STELA [the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act] is not the right place to address retransmission consent reform. This is not something we want to wade into lightly.”

Rep. Eshoo Calls Retrans Fees ‘A Racket’

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, tells the American Cable Association’s annual Summit that cable retransmission consent payments to broadcasters ‘is serious money. Most frankly, I think it’s a racket” and says such fees and blackouts that come from their negotiotions constitute an “unsustainable business model.”

FCC’s Wheeler Defends New Retrans Rules

Speaking to a receptive group of cable operators, Tom Wheeler said that the goals Congress laid out when it passed the law have been “perverted,” and needed to be reformed.

MORE TO COME

FCC Blocks Joint Retrans Negotiations

Two or more separately owned Top-4 broadcasters in the same market would be prohibited from negotiating retrans deals altogether.

Univision Asks FCC For Retrans Exemption

In anticipation of tighter retransmission consent regulations, the Spanish-language station owner wants the FCC to allow it to keep on negotiating contracts for Entravision stations as well.

STATION ADVISORY

Lots Of Interest On FCC’s March 31 Agenda

The agenda is out, and the FCC’s likely action on its Quadrennial Review of the multiple ownership rules now seems to be much clearer. And the decision seems likely to follow the rumors circulating in Washington for weeks, with new regulatory wrinkles added to those previously suggested. Among the hot topics: JSAs, SSAs and retransmission consent agreements.

DMA 30

Cox And LIN Poised For Conn. Showdown

Subscribers of Cox Communications’ three cable systems in Connecticut could find themselves unable to watch ABC affiliate WTNH Hartford and its sister station, WCTX, on March 14 if a new retransmission agreement isn’t reached. The two stations are owned by LIN Media and have already begun running announcements about their possible removal from the Cox lineup.

Broadcasters Defeat STELA Retrans Threat

Republican lawmakers reportedly agreed to delete a provision in the draft satellite bill that would have freed cable TV operators from their current legal obligation to carry retransmission consent stations on the basic tier.

Broadcasters To Fight STELA Retrans Threat

Among the key provisions widely rumored to be under serious consideration for inclusion in a draft satellite TV bill that could be introduced in the House of Representatives as soon as today, is one that would free cable TV operators of their current legal obligation to carry retrans stations on the basic cable tiers that all cable TV subscribers are required to buy, sources say.

TWC Adds ‘Broadcast TV Fee’ To Bills

Time Warner Cable has announced that a 40% increase in retransmission consent fees is forcing the company to add “a new line item called the Broadcast TV fee” onto customer bills to “make customers more aware of these rising costs.”

DMA 76 (TOLEDO, OH)

Sinclair, Buckeye Fail To Strike Retrans Deal

The owner of Toledo, Ohio, NBC affiliate WNWO tells the cable operator’s subscribers the station is gone for the foreseeable future and encourages them to switch to Dish Network, DirecTV or AT&T U-verse.

Comcast TWC Buy Could Kill CBS Deal

The new retransmission consent contract CBS Corp. signed with Time Warner Cable last summer after a bitter fight could be a casualty of Comcast Corp.’s proposed acquisition of the pay-TV operator. According to people familiar with the deal, it does not include provisions protecting all the terms of the pact should Time Warner Cable be acquired by a distributor with a sweeter arrangement. These people requested anonymity because the agreement is confidential.

OTA TV To Seek Quid Pro Quo From Comcast

A promise to not fight retransmission consent tops the list of things broadcast TV operators want in exchange for not trying to derail the proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable.

Comcast: TWC Won’t Affect Station Relations

“Nothing about this deal changes the way Comcast will deal with retransmission consent negotiations,” said a Comcast spokesperson. “Once the deal closes TWC will be part of Comcast and thus our practices will govern.”

Latino, Consumer Voices Join TVfreedom.Org

The Hispanic Institute, Entravision Communications Corp., ZGS Communications and the Media Alliance are the latest members of the new coalition created in response to efforts by cable and satellite operators that want to restrict broadcasters’ retransmission consent efforts.

The Higher Math Of Retrans

Convinced they are paying too much in retransmission consent fees, the cable and satellite industries are expected to make a big push in Congress and at the FCC this year to amend the retransmission consent rules to make it tougher for broadcasters to negotiate for fees. Here’s the case in numbers against changing the rules.

COMMENTARY BY FRED CAMPBELL

Congress Shouldn’t Carry Water For Pay TV

Fred Campbell, executive director of the Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology: “Pay-TV providers want to have it both ways. They want the ability to blackout channels they don’t think they need while asking Congress to prevent broadcasters from withholding their programming when video providers refuse to pay. Enhancing the power of pay-TV providers over programming in this way might improve their bottom line, but it wouldn’t benefit consumers. Congress should just say no.”

Stations, Nets Unite To Battle Retrans Foes

The new TVFreedom.org coalition says the pay-TV industry must be held accountable for continually increasing consumers’ monthly bills, saddling them with “extra fees” and artificially disrupting service through programming blackouts.

New Retrans Attack Targets Multicasting

Under one of new wrinkles in the retrans reform campaign, pay-TV companies are now urging the FCC to crack down on the ability of broadcasters to offer more than one Big 4 TV network-affiliated signals over their own channels by multicasting, and to limit the ability of broadcasters to negotiate retransmission consent rights for unaffiliated stations in separate markets.

DMA 30 (HARTFORD-NEW HAVEN, CT)

WFSB, Cablevision Settle Retrans Dispute

Meredith-owned CBS affiliate WFSB Hartford-New Haven, Conn., announced on its website and through social media that it hadsreached a deal with Cablevision to restore its programming to the cable provider’s Optimum TV service.

DMA 76 (TOLEDO, OH)

Buckeye Offers Credit During WNWO Blackout

Buckeye CableSystem will give its Toledo-area customers a small credit each month until the cable television company and Sinclair Broadcast Group agree on a new contract that allows Buckeye to resume carrying Sinclair’s NBC affiliate WNWO.