Tegna Inc. on Saturday released the following update on the status of negotiations with Suddenlink on a new retransmission consent agreement: “Tegna is working hard to reach a fair, market-based agreement with Suddenlink. While we hope a deal can be reached by 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 31 and avoid any interruption of service, we have a responsibility to inform our viewers of the current situation. We have begun notifying viewers of their options to continue watching our valuable local programming if the deadline passes without an agreement.”
There are only a few days left before folks will begin ringing in the New Year, but Fox Corp and NCTC are spending the final week of 2019 negotiating carriage agreements for the Fox O&Os and a number of cable networks, including Fox News, before their current deal’s Dec. 31 expiration date.
Congress is handing traditional broadcasters such as CBS and ABC a surprise victory in a contentious, multimillion-dollar TV lobbying fight by letting key parts of a 31-year-old satellite TV law die.
The Senate has put the STELAR retransmission consent reform vehicle on blocks, apparently for good. As expected the Senate has passed compromise bills that make the retrans good faith negotiation mandate for broadcasters and MVPDs permanent and sunsets the every-five-year renewal of the satellite distant signal compulsory license.
The FCC has voted unanimously to propose eliminating the requirement that cable operators provide their subs at least 30 days notice of a TV station channel coming off their systems, changing it to notice “as soon as possible” given that retrans deals are often struck in the 11th hour. It must still collect comment on the proposal and vote on a final order, but that will almost certainly happen.
A source familiar with the agreement said that there is a bicameral, bipartisan deal on House Energy & Commerce and Judiciary versions of bills that would essentially end the every-five-year STELAR reauthorization cycle, which has been a goal of the National Association of Broadcasters. STELAR’s renewal has been used as a vehicle for proposed retrans reforms NAB has opposed as unnecessary.
Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications are blaming retransmission consent fees and sports rights for hikes to their monthly cable rates.
The House has passed a compromise bill, HR 5035, the Television Viewer Protection Act (TVPA), that would make permanent the mandate that broadcasters and MVPDs negotiate in good faith. That mandate sunsets at the end of the year unless renewed. But the bill does not renew the compulsory license, which also sunsets at the end of the year if not renewed.
At CBS, where he was senior vice president from 1988 to 1993, Kriegel helped persuade Congress to require the cable TV industry to pay broadcasters for the right to retransmit over-the-air programming.
Congress is debating whether to renew the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, commonly referred to as STELAR, past Dec. 31, when it’s set to expire. Dr. George Ford, with the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies, says focus is on a key question: Should broadcasters get to charge whatever retransmission fee the market will bear?
AT&T reached a renewal of its retransmission agreement with Nashville License Holdings, which owns the CW affiliate in Nashville, lifting a six-month blackout and ending a dispute that affected a dozen stations that operate under shared service agreements with Sinclair Broadcast Group.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has introduced yet another version of a STELAR renewal bill, the “Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act (STCPP) of 2019.” There are already Senate Commerce and House Energy & Commerce versions of a bill that would renew the satellite compulsory distant signal license and the mandate that broadcasters and MVPDs negotiate carriage deals with each other in good faith.
Denver-area regional sports network Altitude, blacked out by Comcast since August, sued the cable operator charging Comcast with violating antitrust laws and trying to put Altitude out of business.
Station owner Howard Stirks Holdings has settled its retrans dispute with AT&T and replaced its negotiating agent. The stations at issue, WEYI Flint-Saginaw, Mich., and WWMB Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C., had been off DirecTV since June.
Three of the Big Four broadcast networks have agreed to insure their viewers don’t lose access to distant signals if Congress lets the STELAR compulsory satellite license expire at year’s end, according to letters from those nets, and the fourth is about to do the same, according to a source familiar with the network’s thinking.
The FCC today ordered nine TV station groups linked to Sinclair Broadcast Group to return to the negotiating table with AT&T’s DirectTV after some consumers have been without access to 20 stations for five months.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which shares jurisdiction over the issue with Commerce, is putting a thumb on the scale for the sunset of the compulsory license that allows satellite providers to import distant network-affiliated TV signals into markets that lack them without having to negotiate individually for the license with broadcasters.
Regional sports network Altitude has reached a new carriage deal with AT&T’s DirecTV, ending a two-month blackout. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Viacom and CBS, nearing the completion of their merger, said that Ray Hopkins will serve as president, U.S. network distribution for ViacomCBS. Hopkins has been responsible for helping to drive CBS’s retransmission consent revenue. Tom Gorke, the top distribution at Viacom, is leaving the company.
Patricia Jo Boyers: “Smaller pay television providers are under assault from the excessive demands of local TV stations. Congress needs to step in and support legislative reforms that curb the undue price hikes and sudden signal blackouts designed to turn consumers against their traditional pay-TV providers.”
The FCC isn’t likely to loosen ownership restrictions anytime soon, said leaders from Nexstar, Gray and Meredith last week, but outside money is likely to continue coming into the industry while the ownership cap holds steady. L-r: Patrick McCreery of Meredith, Perry Sook of Nexstar and Pat LaPlatney of Gray. (Photo: Wendy Moger-Bross)
Fox Corp. and Charter Communications today said they struck a new “long term” carriage deal for Fox’s suite of TV networks, the latest in a recent series of agreements Fox has struck with various distributors. The pact covers distribution of Fox Television Stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2, BTN and Fox Deportes. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The new carriage contract covers Sinclairs O&Os plus the Tennis Channel, Marquee Sports Network, 21 regional sports networks and the YES Network.
Fall brings football and retrans renewals. The FCC still has a retrans complaint pending from AT&T, and there’s some hope for congressional action.
AT&T and Northwest Broadcasting say they’ve ended their nearly eight-month old carriage fight, which means 20 Northwest-owned stations in 10 markets can now return to the AT&T-owned DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV Now.
Fox Corp. and Dish Network ended a programming blackout Sunday that had kept thousands of the satellite-provider’s subscribers from watching Thursday Night Football and other Fox network favorites for the past week or so.
Charter Communication said Sunday that it reached a long-term retransmission consent deal with Tegna that will keep the broadcast group’s network affiliates available to the cable company’s subscribers. The new contract follows a week of extensions after the old agreement expired.
The new deal covers distribution of the Fox Television Stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2, BTN and Fox Deportes.
A sequence of recent actions suggests that cable operators are pushing back against collaboration with the Advanced Television Standards Committee’s efforts to enable carriage of the format on MVPD systems. It is unclear whether they legitimately believe, as claimed, that it is “too early” to establish ATSC 3.0 (aka Next Gen TV) retransmission procedures or if the MVPDs are defensively rejecting the standard’s data transmission opportunities as competition to cable’s own digital agenda.
Sinclair stations remained on AT&T’s U-Verse and DirecTV distribution platforms past the 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, deadline. A source said Sinclair, which ultimately controls the signals, had provided the extension. It was not clear for how long.
Retrans and its derivative net retrans (retrans less reverse comp payment to broadcast networks) will grow at healthy clips for the next few years, she said. Retrans will experience a compound annual growth of 12%, while net retrans climbs at a 5% rate. But starting in 2024, by her reckoning, the rate of growth for retrans falls to 7% and net retrans goes flat.
As a blackout looms with the current retransmission consent impasse between Sinclair and AT&T — Sinclair is warning DirecTV and U-Verse customers the stations (136 stations in 86 markets) could be off those AT&T-owned MVPDs by Sept. 27 — AT&T is framing the impasse for legislators concerned about their constituent/viewers as a still-ongoing negotiation with AT&T, not surprisingly, “on the side of the customer.”
Fox-owned TV stations in 17 markets as well as FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Deportes have gone dark on Dish Network in the latest carriage dispute to throw a wrench into the pay-TV ecosystem. The dispute affects Dish’s 12 million satellite households as well as millions more who subscribe to the internet-delivered bundle Sling TV, in 23 states and Washington, D.C.
The Walt Disney Co. reached an agreement in principle Friday evening on a new retransmission consent and carriage deal with AT&T that would keep networks including ABC, ESPN and the Disney Channel glowing in homes with DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV Now. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Sinclair Broadcast Group is warning that millions of subscribers to AT&T’s pay TV services could be blacked out on Sept. 27 unless a new carriage agreement is reached. Sinclair said its agreement with AT&T was set to expire in August and that it gave AT&T a five-week extension.
Meredith’s television stations in 12 markets return to the satellite provider’s lineup immediately after almost two months.
After lengthy blackouts of CBS and Nexstar stations, plus the impact of price increases, AT&T expects to lose about 300,000 to 350,000 subscribers in the quarter, CFO John Stephens said Wednesday.
If the companies are unable to reach a new agreement, DirecTV subscribers could lose access to ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Freeform.
DirectTV and Cowles have reached an impasse in their retransmission consent negotiations, resulting on DirecTV dropping Cowles’ NBC affiliate KHQ Spokane and its satellites serviving Yahima and Richland and four Montana stations — NBC affiliate KULR Billings, ABC affiliate KWYB Butte, ABC affiliate KFBB Great Falls and ABC affiilate KTMF Missoula, according to the stations’ websites. Their last retrans agreement expired in June.