Since first initiating customer surcharges in January 2015, Comcast has increased fees for broadcast and sports programming by a combined 241% to $14.50 a month in most markets. "The cost of retransmission imposed by broadcasters continues to increase significantly as do the costs charged by regional sports programmers, and while these fees are increasing they only defray a portion of what we are being charged to be able to carry these channels,” Comcast responded in a statement.
It looks like 2017 set a new record for retrans blackouts. An analysis by Cablefax and American Television Alliance counted 217 blackouts with more than a week left in the year.
“A funny thing happened on the way to muscling this thing through: It turns out people don’t like the idea of one local television company having access to 72 percent of American households,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.
GCI reports that the owners of the Fox affiliates in Fairbanks and Juneau are demanding 300% increases in rates across multiple TV stations. GCI said the Fox interests implemented their blackout suddenly and unexpectedly earlier in November and have not relented. “In Alaska that’s not called negotiating, that’s called robbery,” GCI said in a statement.
Frontier Communications subscribers may have to live without Sinclair Broadcasting stations and the Tennis Channel for a while — maybe a long while. The problem? “We’re so far apart on the price” that Frontier should pay, Faber adds. The cable company had a low rate with Fisher Communications, which owned about 20 stations — including ABC affiliates in Seattle and Portland, OR — until Sinclair bought them in 2013.
Rosenworcel voiced concerns over a merger which would give one company reach into more than 70 million U.S. households. “I’m not alone in my concerns about the concentration that will result from this proposed transaction. I’m not alone in my fear that it will do harm to the time-tested principles of diversity, localism and competition. There is opposition across the political spectrum.”
Citing cases during disasters in Minot, North Dakota and Beaumont, Texas, when broadcasters offered preprogrammed content instead of news updates, Rosenworcel in her dissenting statement said requiring broadcasters to maintain a physical presence in communities could lessen the likelihood of those situations.
“I do not believe wiping out the main studio rule is going to solve problems like those in Minot and Beaumont. I do not believe it will lead to better community coverage. I do not believe it will lead to more jobs. I do believe it will hollow out the unique role broadcasters play in local communities—a role that is not just tradition, but an essential part of broadcasting under the Communications Act,” said Rosenworcel in a statement
The interruption began at 2 p.m. EST Monday, upon the expiration of a retransmission deal signed in December 2014. A 12-hour CBS blackout on Dish also preceded that incumbent deal. “We thought we were making good progress,” said Warren Schlichting, Dish’s executive VP of marketing, programming and media sales, to the Times. “But then late [Monday] night, CBS stopped talking and wouldn’t accept our offer for an extension.”
“CBS is attempting to tax Dish customers on programming that’s losing viewers, tax Dish customers on programming available for free over the air, and tax Dish customers for content available directly from CBS,” said Warren Schlichting, Dish executive vice president of marketing, programming and media sales, in a statement. “Our customers are clear: they don’t want to pay a CBS tax. It’s regrettable and unnecessary that CBS is bringing its greed into the homes of millions of families this Thanksgiving.”
“Lilly is further blinding the citizens of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands at this time, showing an unbelievable lack of compassion…during this humanitarian crisis…” “Lilly’s decision to cut ties with DISH customers is a prime example of why Washington needs to stand up for consumers and end local channel blackouts… Broadcasters like Lilly use their in-market monopoly power to put profits ahead of the public interests they are supposed to serve.”
Retransmission growth continued to be a huge source of revenue for broadcasters in the second quarter. The results all feed into a recent report from Kagan that stated the total amount of retransmission fees collected by U.S. broadcasters from traditional and virtual MVPDs is expected to reach $12.8 billion by 2023.
Fox Networks Group, the division that includes FX Networks, National Geographic, Fox Sports and 19 regional sports networks warned it could cut off access to Charter’s 16 million Spectrum subscribers.
DIRECTV has lost six local channels in three markets due to a fee fight with their owner, Lilly Broadcasting. The channels affected in the dispute are: WSEE-TV (CBS affiliate in Erie, Pennsylvania); WICU-TV (NBC affiliate in Erie); WENY (CBS, ABC affiliates in Elmira, New York); and KMAU-TV (ABC and MeTV channels in Honolulu, Hawaii.).
DISH Network and Hearst Television stations reached an agreement on retransmission consent, bringing an end to a stalemate that had kept 31 Hearst-owned television stations off DISH for almost 2 months.
KRGV-TV, the ABC station in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas market, and WBRZ-TV, the ABC station in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, have removed their signals could from DIRECTV.
Consolidation of local broadcast stations could lead to more expensive fees for consumers as providers pass on ever-higher fees from broadcasters and content creators to subscribers.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, announced it had struck a $3.9 billion deal to obtain dozens of local television stations by acquiring Tribune Media. The move would further propel consolidation in the industry. With its new holdings, Sinclair would hold stations in seven of the biggest 10 markets.
TV-station owners may soon go on a buying spree, a consolidation wave that could limit programming options for viewers. The Federal Communications Commission has been working on eliminating a rule that limits TV-station companies from amassing more than 39% of U.S. households in their reach.
Frontier lost access to Sinclair Broadcasting stations including ABC affiliates in Seattle and Portland, OR, as well as cable’s Tennis Channel. Meanwhile, AT&T’s DirecTV lost 33 Hearst Television stations.
Univision stations in 37 markets are going back up on Charter Communications after a New York judge issued a temporary restraining order in the carriage battle between the Spanish-language media giant and the cable operator.
Comcast and YES were locked in a year-long battle over carriage of the channel. After several months of back and forth, the two struck a deal to return the channel on Jan. 1 as part of a broader carriage agreement with YES parent 21st Century Fox.