Richmond, Va.-based Media Genera yesterday reached a settlement with Charter Communications to renew their retransmission consent agreement. Both companies had agreed to extend the agreement, which was set to expire Dec. 31, until midnight on Thursday. The resolution prevented a disruption in service just before Media General’s stations were set to go dark.
It comes to terms with AT&T, Cable One and Cox Communications for stations in nine markets.
Charter Communications and Cox Media have reached retransmission consent agreements for four markets: Atlanta (WSB), Charlotte (WSOC), San Francisco (KTVU-KICU), and Seattle (KIRO).
Cable One’s retransmission consent agreement with KTEN (NBC), ABC Texoma and CW Texoma will expire at midnight Tuesday. Should an agreement not be reached by that time, those channels will be taken off the system. Both Cable One and KTEN have followed the traditional game plans, posting their side of the situation and asking subscribers to call the other entity.
As Dec. 31 nears, the noise over potential blackouts gets a bit louder. Here’s a rundown of some of the retransmission consent deals that still need to be settled.
“With these agreements and cable partnerships our stations will continue to serve our viewers with the best news and entertainment programming in our markets,” said the group’s CEO Elizabeth Murphy Burns.
KECI Missoula, Mont., GM Richard Reingold: “Since late Saturday, Dec. 7, KECI-TV NBC Montana has been missing from Dish Network’s satellite TV service. Dish customers are angry and want to know what happened. I welcome this opportunity to explain.”
Pappas Telecasting: “Retransmission consent negotiations with Charter Cable have not been successful. As a result, NTV [KWNB (ABC)] and our sister station KFXL (Fox) may be removed from Charter’s lineup as of midnight on Dec. 31. We are hopeful that a mutually satisfactory agreement will quickly be reached.”
Cablevision’s contract to carry Meredith’s CBS affiliate WFSB Hartford, Conn.,on its cable system will expire at midnight on Dec. 31 and if a new deal isn’t struck before then, the station will be removed from the Cablevision OptimumTV lineup.
Tribune TV stations in New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas and Indianapolis were included in the multi-year distribution deal with Time Warner Cable that also includes Local TV Holdings stations and WGN America.
WNWO, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s NBC affiliate in Toledo Ohio, ordered Buckeye CableSystem to remove its signal from Buckeye’s carriage after the existing retransmission consent contract between the two expired.
The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act would repeal compulsory copyright licenses, various mandates on private sector companies and consumers, and FCC broadcast and media ownership rules. And the Video CHOICE Act would, among other things, give the FCC authority to grant interim carriage of a TV station during a retransmission consent negotiation impasse.
CEO George Mahoney says he expects the revenue stream to increase by a third this year and next. He also sees a strong year in 2014 for political advertising money.
Dish Network and Bonten Media Group are negotiating a new carriage contract, with the existing agreement set to expire Saturday. NBC Montana channels, including KECI Missoula, have been warning viewers about a possible disruption in service.
The Republican congressman says any changes “should not be hastily slapped together for the benefit of a few players in the industry.” And, he added, the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act should not include retrans reform provisions.
New research from the American Consumer Institute says the rules are making broadcasting so lucrative that major TV stations will be reluctant to give up spectrum in future FCC wireless auctions.
SNL Kagan’s updated industry retransmission fee projections also put this year’s fee total at $3.3 billion. The projections for growth are based on rising per-month sub fees for TV station owners in recent negotiations, as well as industry consolidation. Reverse retrans is seen climbing from $1.02 billion in 2014 to $2.25 billion in 2019.
Media General and Dish Network announced Saturday that they have reached an agreement for carriage of Media General’s television stations in 17 markets. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
When it comes to retransmission negotiations — like those going on now between Disney and Dish Network as well as the battle that caused CBS to temporarily go dark on Time Warner Cable this year — it’s not all about the money, 21st Century Fox COO Chase Carey said Thursday. To pretend otherwise is “not constructive,” he said. “It’s really not first and foremost about price.”
The broadcaster, whose stations have been off the satellite service since Oct. 1, tells the FCC that taking the Dish complaint contains false statements and granting it “would be the worst possible outcome for Dish customers and Media General viewers across the country.” And it asks the FCC to consider “appropriate actions for Dish’s abuse of the commission’s processes and for its misrepresentations to and lack of candor before the commission.”
The No. 1 satellite company warns broadcasters that their rush to raise retransmission consent fees could backfire. DirecTV’s outlays to broadcast stations are up 50% this year, and that’s “not sustainable,” CEO Mike White told analysts today. If prices “continue to explode, then customers are going to demand other alternatives.” And DirecTV has done some R&D work to see whether it could offer broadcast TV the way Aereo does — using antennas to tap free over-the-air transmissions, without paying stations.
Gigi Sohn, the founder of public interest group Public Knowledge, has argued that the FCC can require interim carriage of broadcast signals to avoid blackouts during retransmission consent negotiating impasses. However, some industry observers say that in her new position as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s special counsel for external affairs, she may change her tune on some key issues now that she is officially representing the FCC. Says one: “She has to think about whether a court will uphold an action, and in the past she has shown an ability to be pragmatic.”
Dish Network formally appealed to the FCC to intervene in its retransmission-consent feud with Media General — whose TV stations in 17 markets have been dark on the satcaster since Oct. 1 — charging that the broadcaster has failed to negotiate in good faith.
The broadcaster and satellite service have a long-term deal covering Gray stations in 30 markets.
Jonathan Sarrow has been named senior vice president of CBS’s Television Networks Distribution, a job that will involve negotiating carriage fees for CBS-owned properties with cable, satellite and telco companies.
CBS affiliate KEYC Mankato, Minn., and its Fox subchannel were dropped this week from Dish Network. Because of a contract dispute that KEYC General Manager Marvin Rhodes deems irreparable for the time being, about 3,400 Dish customers in the Mankato area will be without the channels.
Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications and Time Warner Cable have signed a new, multiyear distribution deal that includes carriage of several of Univision’s new networks including the highly anticipated El Rey Network.
“Providing our viewers with important weather and safety information during storms is an integral part of our responsibility to our local communities,” said George L. Mahoney, president-CEO of Media General.
Media General’s WNCN Raleigh, N.C., created a website designed to tell viewers its side of the company’s retransmission consent dispute with Dish Network. The website is an example of the viewer education efforts being conducted by all of Media General’s stations during the impasse.
The irony. The sheer irony. Just a few weeks ago, Congress was holding hearings in which the challenges of concluding retransmission negotiations without the occasional service disruption featured prominently. Fast forward a few weeks and we now face another impasse where the parties have been unable to negotiate an accord, with the resulting disruption greatly affecting the public. The difference this week is that we are not talking about a retrans dispute, but the shutdown of the federal government. While the ramifications of this disruption are far greater than any retrans dispute, the similarity of circumstances is striking.
Disney isn’t happy about the way Dish helps subscribers skip commercials automatically. But it does want Dish to carry two new channels.
In the latest blackout to hit the pay TV biz, Dish Network customers lost access to 18 stations run by Media General at midnight Tuesday, after the parties couldn’t work out a deal.
NBCUniversal boss Steve Burke, who for years has complained to Wall Street that NBCU was shortchanged when it came to retransmission fees and other revenue, told a conference last week that the media giant’s gap with rivals could be as much as $1 billion. While his pitch in the past fell on deaf ears — in no small part because an NBC turn-around has been as elusive as unicorns — the first week of the current season shows the Peacock Network off to a flying start with its primetime ratings up 41% in the first four days of the new season.
Dish Network and the Walt Disney Co. have extended the deadline on their negotiations for a new retransmission consent agreement beyond the current Monday deadline. The companies did not disclose how long the extension will run. The announcement characterized it as “short term.” The agreement covers the ABC-owned TV stations, ESPN and Disney Channel .
“Broadcast captures 35% of the audience, gets 7% of programming fees,” Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker told the TVB Forward conference today. Growing retrans consent revenue (it’s expected to total $2.6 billion this year) is one factor driving investor interest in broadcasting, she added, with broadcast TV stocks currently up 74% over what it was at this time last year.
A blackout of Journal Broadcast Group’s WTMJ Milwaukee on Time Warner Cable systems has dragged on for 55 days and has become a line in the sand in the national battle between broadcasters and pay-TV services over fees, programming and viewers.
The unavoidable truth is that the rare retrans disruption doesn’t occur because the parties didn’t begin negotiating early enough to get a deal done; it occurs because the parties can’t agree on price and won’t change their views on pricing until the pressures of a retrans disruption are upon them. In the end, private contractual negotiations are about agreeing on the value of an item to be conveyed, and if the parties can’t agree on that, a transaction doesn’t happen. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t change that. To think otherwise is merely to be retransigent.
The American Cable Association tells the FCC that the proposed purchase of seven stations will mean Sinclair will be able to negotiate retransmission consent deals for multiple stations in both Harrisburg, Pa., and Charleston, S.C.
Media General’s Tampa, Fla., NBC affil says the satellite service’s subscribers will lose its signal if a new retransmission consent contract isn’t signed by midnight, Sept. 30.
This year alone, NBC will make $200 million from retransmission consent fees from cable, telco and satellite carriers. Retrans money has become hugely important to the TV networks as ratings decline and ad dollars level off. Robin Flynn, senior analyst at SNL Kagan, talks about how broadcast retrans fees originated, why they’re growing, and how Aereo fits into all of it.