Fox undercuts affiliates in retransmission talks


If you own and operate a Fox affiliate in a Time Warner Cable market and retransmission talks get testy, as they have between TWC and Sinclair, get ready – if TWC forces Sinclair to exercise the right to withdraw the broadcast signal, the network will provide its national entertainment and sports programming to TWC regardless.

Sinclair and Time Warner intersect in numerous markets, and Fox affiliates are implicated in several of them. Sinclair is convinced that TWC has no intention of coming to an agreement before the current contracts expire at the end of the year, and is not pleased that Fox has agreed to supply programming to TWC despite the withdrawal of the local station.

Sinclair and other affected local affiliates will still have some leverage, since the network will not be able to hand over any local or syndicated programming.

A Fox spokesman told the Los Angeles Times that it believes it has an obligation to protect its fans from service interruptions, and said that provision of its programming will allow its affiliates to proceed with negotiations without worrying about deadline expiration dates. He also said that the policy provides incentive for both sides to reach an agreement.

RBR-TVBR observation: Fox believed it had the need to pull its O&O programming away from Cablevision during its recent retransmission battle. It also apparently believes that Sinclair and other television groups do not have that need – and is in fact doing Sinclair a favor by preventing it from doing fully what Fox just did itself. You do the math.