New owner, same problem.
When it came to retransmission consent disagreements with the nation’s two DBS providers or big MVPDs such as Charter Communications-owned Spectrum, Brian Brady‘s Northwest Broadcasting was one of the TV station owners in the news more than others.
Today, Northwest’s 18 station roster is part of the “Terrier” assets managed by Cox Media Group and majority-owned by Apollo Global Management.
Guess what? The Terrier Ten can’t be seen on Dish Network — thanks to, you guessed it, the latest retrans disconnect discord.
In a message appearing on the website for “FOX Syracuse,” Dish customers are informed that “FOX 68” (WSYT-TV) in Syracuse, N.Y., “has been removed from satellite provider DISH Network after the two companies were unable to come to terms on a new retransmission consent agreement.”
The previous agreement expired at 7pm Eastern on Saturday, Jan. 18.
It’s just the latest “blackout’ involving the Central New York station. From Feb. 22-Oct. 11, 2019, the then-Northwest stations, along with 17 other properties across 10 markets, were blanked from AT&T-owned DirecTV due to a prolonged, and bitter, retrans impasse.
Then, there was the 2018 bitter retransmission fee dispute with the Spectrum MVPD service, which lasted four months.
While those discussions involved Brady, this is the first that sees radio industry veteran Kim Guthrie, today Cox Media Group’s President, voice her views on a TV industry problem that is only growing despite Federal legislation aimed at preventing “blackouts” — required by law in the absence of a retransmission consent accord.
“We have negotiated in good faith to come to an agreement with DISH,” Guthrie said. “We are simply seeking a fair agreement with DISH to carry these channels.”
She added that DISH “already pays much more for national networks like ESPN, even though far fewer people watch ESPN than any of our local stations.”
That said, Guthrie is comparing apples to oranges, as ESPN is a cable network whereas WSYT is a broadcast TV station.
Guthrie continued, “DISH is seeking the right to FOX 68 at well below current market rates and on terms that no other video provider has demanded. With NFL playoffs going on and the Super Bowl coming up soon, DISH is really showing how little it cares about its customers. All viewers should keep in mind that every one of our stations remains available for free over the air at all times.”
In its defense, Dish says it offered to extend the current retransmission agreement — with payment, MediaPost reports — until after the Super Bowl, but CMG refused.
“We urge Apollo to join us in continued negotiation, and believe we are able to reach a mutually beneficial deal without disrupting customers,” Dish said in prepared comments.
Northwest’s holdings as of October 2019 comprised of the following stations:
- CBS affiliate KSWT-13; Estrella TV, on KSWT-13.2; and NBC affiliate KYMA-11 in Yuma, Ariz.
- CBS affiliate KJRW-17 (formerly KVIQ); DT multicast channels with the market’s affiliates for The CW and MyNetworkTV; and NBC affiliate KIEM-3 in Eureka-Arcata, Calif. This impacted only Del Norte County and the town of Crescent City, Calif., area, as Altice USA-owned Suddenlink is the main provider serving Humboldt County.
- KFFX-11 in Yakima, Wash., the market’s FOX affiliate, and simulcast partner KCYU-LD 41 in Tri-Cities, Wash.
- FOX affiliate KMVU-26 in Medford-Ashland, Ore.
- KAYU-28 in Spokane, the market’s FOX affiliate.
- FOX affiliate WSYT-68 in Syracuse.
- NBC affiliate KPVI-6 in Idaho Falls-Pocatello, Idaho.
- FOX affiliate WICZ-40 in Binghamton, N.Y.
- Lost Coast Broadcasting’s KLAX-31 and KWCE-LP 27 in Alexandria, Va., acquired in September 2018. Some 50.1% ownership in the company is held by NBI Holdings LLC — a limited liability company that is wholly owned by Brian Brady.
- WABG (ABC), WABG-HD2 (FOX), WNBD (NBC), and WXVT (CBS), all stations serving the Greenville-Greenwood, Miss., DMA.
While Dish and Northwest have not had big blow ups in the past, Northwest and DirecTV have had a difficult history.
Northwest stations were prevented from reaching DirecTV customers in January 2011 and did not return until four weeks later, just in time for the Super Bowl. Then came a new impasse and “blackout,” in late August 2012.
— Adam R Jacobson, from NATPE Miami
FROM THE RBR+TVBR ARCHIVES: