The holiday cheer may soon to jeers for cable TV subscribers in a host of towns including St. George, Utah; Prineville, Oregon; and Mesquite, Nev.
While these locales may be small in size, over-the-air signals may not be present. This makes MVPDs essential for viewing network television affiliates from the nearest DMA. Should a dispute over retransmission fees erupt, the situation could put viewers at risk of losing their lone source for programming.
That’s not good for TDS, or for the broadcast TV giant it is in dispute with.
The latest retransmission fee battle involves Nexstar Media Group, which in early 2017 closed on its acquisition of Media General and is now seeking regulatory approval to acquire Tribune Media. This would make Nexstar the largest TV station owner in the U.S.
Nexstar is presently in negotiation on a new retransmission consent agreement with TDS, a small cable provider in small and rural markets across the Mountain West and Tennessee.
Impacted are My Network affiliate WNDY-28 and The CW affiliate WISH-8 in Indianapolis; ABC affiliate WKRN-2 in Nashville; and ABC affiliate WATE-6 in Knoxville.
These are “markets” where TDS offers IPTV. Some 93,000 people are impacted, the American Cable Association (ACA) notes. Warning messages are already appearing on crawl screens for WKRN-2.
The Tennessee communities impacted are Farragut, Halls, Mt. Juliet, and LaVergne.
Also impacted are the small cities of Crooked River Ranch, Prineville and Crooked River Ranch, Ore. TDS is the parent of BendBroadband, and in these towns the retrans agreement dates to when TDS acquired Crestview in 2017.
Some 21,894 are at risk of losing Nexstar-owned CBS affiliate KOIN-6 in Portland.
But it is the former Baja markets now owned by TDS that present the biggest headache for Nexstar.
The channels and markets impacted here include:
Cortez: CBS and Fox
Fort Carson: FOX and CW
Woodland Park: Fox
In Cortez, KRQE, KWBQ, and KASY in Albuquerque are impacted as a DMA shift to allow Denver-area stations has not yet transpired for MVPDs. In Fort Carson and in Woodland Park, KXRM-TV and KXTU-LD in Colorado Springs are effected.
Mesquite: CBS and Me TV
KLAS-8 in Las Vegas is the impacted station in this town.
Alamogordo: CBS and Fox
Carlsbad: CBX and Fox
Hobbs and Lovington: CBS and Fox
Ruidoso: CBS and Fox
Socorro: CBS and Fox
Truth or Consequences: CBS and Fox
In all markets but Eunice, KRQE, KWBQ, and KASY in Albuquerque are impacted. In Eunice, KMID-TV in Odessa-Midland, Tex., is the impacted station.
Fort Stockton: ABC
Odessa-Midland, Tex.-based KMID-TV is impacted here, as is KLBK-TV in Lubbock.
Cedar City: ABC, CW, Me TV and Grit TV
St. George: ABC, CW, Me TV and Grit TV
KTVX and KUCW in Salt Lake City are the stations serving these southwest Utah cities.
The Nexstar signals will fade to black in the absence of a new deal signed by Monday (12/31).
As TDS sees it, “Nexstar is demanding up to a 175% rate increase.”
It said, “We certainly understand that prices increase over time and modest adjustments need to be made in new contracts. However, a rate hike of this level is far outside what would be considered a normal price increase.”
In addition, TDS claims Nexstar is asking “for additional contract terms we do not agree with and could leave the door open for future unexpected changes that could negatively impact both your lineup and your bill.”
TDS also assailed Nexstar for its on-air and website message, which reads, “TDS is threatening to take away your local stations. TDS may drop your local CBS, FOX, ABC, CW and MyNet stations on December 31.”
In response, the small cable company said, “TDS is not threatening to take down stations. We are negotiating for a fair deal. If we cannot reach a deal, Nexstar could require TDS to take stations down. The truth is if that happens, there is no market in which TDS customers are at risk of losing access to all five networks, or even three networks. Nexstar’s messaging is not honest.”
For its part, Nexstar-owned WKRN says, “We have been negotiating in good faith to establish a mutually agreeable contract with TDS, proposing fair and reasonable terms … Unfortunately, our efforts have been thwarted by what appears to be a strategy of unrealistic proposals and outright delay by a distributor willing to hold its paying subscribers captive because it won’t agree to pay a fair price for your local ABC station.”