'tis the season for a retransmission malfunction


Many if not most retransmission consent contracts are written with a 12/31 expiration date, so the last few days of the year are the days most likely to feature a few lingering retransmission consent failures between broadcasters and MVPDs. 2011 is no exception.

In Arizona, Meredith Corporation’s CBS KPHO-TV is in danger of disappearing from Suddenlink MVPD outlets in a number of communities including Suddenlink Cable systems serving  Bullhead City, Flagstaff, Kingman, Lake Havasu City, Parker, Payson, Pine, Sedona and Strawberry. The station says it’s asking for pennies a day from subscribers from a system that pays $4 monthly for cable services with far less viewers than KPHO. It notes that it has been negotiating for months, and despite the fact that it has been able to reach agreement with all other Arizona MVPDs in KPHO’s territory, it has as yet been unable to do so with Suddenlink.

The presence of Allbritton’s ABC WCIV on MVPDs operated by Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-Verse is threatened in the Charleston SC DMA. It too says it’s been offering reasonable terms for months with no positive result and will be forced to pull the channel 12/31/11 if a new contract cannot be signed.

Not all of the news is negative. In the Traverse City MI DMA, two stations belonging to Heritage Media were able to come to terms with satcaster DISH Network. A brief blackout of CBS WWTV and Fox WFQX took place before an agreement was reached.

RBR-TVBR observation: We don’t have a formal study to back this up, but it seems clear that this year’s round of retransmission negotiations have not been nearly as numerous nor as testy as they were just a year ago. Perhaps retrans is finally starting to gain acceptance as just another part of doing business.