After Three Days, TEGNA/FiOS Feud Ends


WOODBRIDGE, VA. — Well, that was quick.
TEGNA on Saturday morning reached an agreement with Verizon FiOS that brings a new carriage agreement to fruition.

A TEGNA spokesperson confirmed to RBR+TVBR, “our stations will be back on their system shortly.”

It brings a particularly problematic situation in the Washington DC market to a swift conclusion.

For one woman who turned on her TV set Wednesday morning and attempted to watch the CBS Morning News, a disappointing message appeared instead of the visage of Gayle King. She couldn’t tune to the local CBS affiliate, WUSA-9 in Washington, D.C.

What happened? Her MVPD service provider, Verizon FiOS, has just become the latest cable entity to fail to reach a fair and equitable retransmission consent agreement with a television broadcasting company. In this instance, it involves Tysons-based TEGNA.

WUSA-9, along with four other TEGNA stations, were blocked by law from Verizon FiOS subscribers. That’s because the content deal between Verizon and the company formerly known as Gannett expired at 8pm Eastern Tuesday (1/4).

“We are trying our best to reach a reasonable deal with TEGNA and hope TEGNA will restore its channels to our lineup soon,” Verizon FiOS said.

Like most MVPDs entangled in disputes over retransmission fees, Verizon put the blame on TEGNA, even though it takes both parties to reach a deal.

“We apologize that your service has been disrupted,” Verizon FiOS said in a message offered to its impacted customers. “This is not the first time that TEGNA has removed their content from a TV provider. TEGNA has a track record of removing their content when a TV provider refuses to accept their demands for unreasonable rate increases.”

Indeed, TEGNA has had its share of struggles with MVPDs. In October 2021, the company’s stations were blocked from Dish Network customers as the two entities couldn’t reach a new carriage accord. Dish and TEGNA continue to negotiate today.

Two years earlier, in October 2019, TEGNA successfully avoided a “blackout” on Charter’s Spectrum MVPD service, with a new agreement reached during a short extension period following the expiration of the old retransmission deal.

But, TEGNA in January 2021 saw its stations blocked to Mediacom subscribers, a move that came just days after AT&T and DirecTV ended a 2 1/2-week stalemate with TEGNA over a new retransmission deal.

WUSA9 did not address the Verizon FiOS “blackout.” On its website is a message addressing Dish customers.

That “blackout” remains.

On Wednesday afternoon, TEGNA offered a comment in rebuttal of Verizon’s claims.

“We have been working for months to reach a fair, market-based agreement with Verizon based on the competitive terms we’ve used to reach deals with other major providers,” the company said. “We even offered Verizon an extension that kept our stations available to viewers through the holiday weekend. We are especially disappointed that Verizon has pulled access at a time when local broadcast stations are a lifeline, connecting people to the news, information, and entertainment they need and want most. We hope that Verizon realizes how important our stations are to their subscribers and works with us to reach a fair agreement.”

Such an agreement came Saturday.

With a blizzard trapping vehicles on Interstate 95 between Springfield, Va., and Richmond this week, the timing couldn’t have been worse for WUSA-9.

The other markets impacted by the short impasse between Verizon and TEGNA are York, Pa., where TEGNA owns WPMT “FOX 43”; Norfolk, where TEGNA owns ABC affiliate WVEC-13; Buffalo-Niagara Falls, where TEGNA’s NBC-affiliated WGRZ-2 is in a fierce battle with Nexstar’s WIVB-4 and Scripps’ WKBW-7; and Connecticut’s home for The CW Network, WCCW-20 in Waterbury, Ct.

However, Washington is by far the biggest DMA of concern, as Verizon FiOS has a small customer base in York, Pa.; Norfolk; Connecticut and Western New York.

TEGNA’s FOX affiliate in the New Haven-Hartford market, WTIC-61, was not impacted by the “blackout.”

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