What Others are Saying

Escalating retransmission and renewal fees imposed by broadcasters and programmers are hot topics in the news.

Local Broadcast Stations

Dish wants arbitration in Tribune TV blackout dispute

Tribune Broadcasting’s 42 stations went dark for 50 million Dish Network subscribers across the U.S. on Sunday evening after failing to reach a contract renewal. At issue is the price Dish is willing to pay to carry those stations, a fee which is passed on to subscribers. READ MORE

AT&T drops WISC (Morgan Murphy Media) from TV lineup over broadcast fee dispute

Disputes over so-called “retransmission consent” have become increasingly commonas broadcasters look to lower their reliance on shaky advertising revenues. Last year, the Dish Network temporarily dropped WISC-TV. This past week, Milwaukee DirecTV customers lost access to the local ABC affiliate, WISN-TV. READ MORE

GCI says retransmission fee increases demanded by Alaska Fox affiliates amount to ‘robbery’

GCI reports that the owners of the Fox affiliates in Fairbanks and Juneau are demanding 300% increases in rates across multiple TV stations. GCI said the Fox interests implemented their blackout suddenly and unexpectedly earlier in November and have not relented.

“In Alaska that’s not called negotiating, that’s called robbery,” GCI said in a statement. READ MORE

Cablevision Calls Tribune Crooks, Trib Says It’s Getting Bullied

Cablevision is now accusing Tribune of illegal activity, saying that the station owner is requiring the cable operator to pay retrans fees for WPIX if it wants to keep carrying Hartford-based Fox affiliate WTIC. “We are pursuing both legal and regulatory options to stop Tribune’s illegal tying and will continue to hold the line on increasing programming costs.” READ MORE

New Year’s In The Dark, Thanks To Retrans Disputes

Morgan Murphy Media-owned KXLY-4 in Spokane, Wash., the ABC affiliate serving a region that includes Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, was blacked out along with MeTV KXMN-9 to subscribers of Altice USA’s Suddenlink cable TV services in Idaho.According to Altice USA, Morgan Murphy made the move “as it seeks a significant fee increase of over 75% more than its current rate.” READ MORE

Frontier And DirecTV Subs See Service Disruptions From Retrans Disputes

Frontier Communications subscribers may have to live without Sinclair Broadcasting stations and the Tennis Channel for a while — maybe a long while. The problem? “We’re so far apart on the price” that Frontier should pay, Faber adds. The cable company had a low rate with Fisher Communications, which owned about 20 stations — including ABC affiliates in Seattle and Portland, OR — until Sinclair bought them in 2013. READ MORE

Morgan Murphy Media, the Owner of KXLY-ABC Channel 4, Removes Its Programming from Suddenlink Customers in Idaho

he cost to carry these stations continues to rise with broadcasters demanding higher fees which, in turn, leads to rising costs for consumers. With broadcasters having content available for free over the internet, and over the air via an antenna, we are working to keep retransmission costs down for our customers. READ MORE

CBS Is Blacked Out on Dish as Carriage Talks Hit Snag

“CBS is attempting to tax Dish customers on programming that’s losing viewers, tax Dish customers on programming available for free over the air, and tax Dish customers for content available directly from CBS,” said Warren Schlichting, Dish executive vice president of marketing, programming and media sales, in a statement. “Our customers are clear: they don’t want to pay a CBS tax. It’s regrettable and unnecessary that CBS is bringing its greed into the homes of millions of families this Thanksgiving.” READ MORE

Nearly 4M Dish subscribers in 18 cities blacked out from CBS; Charter interruption could be next

The interruption began at 2 p.m. EST Monday, upon the expiration of a retransmission deal signed in December 2014. A 12-hour CBS blackout on Dish also preceded that incumbent deal.

“We thought we were making good progress,” said Warren Schlichting, Dish’s executive VP of marketing, programming and media sales, to the Times. “But then late [Monday] night, CBS stopped talking and wouldn’t accept our offer for an extension.” READ MORE

DirecTV files complaint with FCC over loss of Tribune Co. programming

DirecTV filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission on Monday seeking an immediate intervention in its dispute withTribune Co.over retransmission fees, which has resulted in a blackout of all Tribune television programming for its subscribers. READ MORE

FCC eliminates main studio rule for broadcasters

Citing cases during disasters in Minot, North Dakota and Beaumont, Texas, when broadcasters offered preprogrammed content instead of news updates, Rosenworcel in her dissenting statement said requiring broadcasters to maintain a physical presence in communities could lessen the likelihood of those situations.

“I do not believe wiping out the main studio rule is going to solve problems like those in Minot and Beaumont. I do not believe it will lead to better community coverage. I do not believe it will lead to more jobs. I do believe it will hollow out the unique role broadcasters play in local communities—a role that is not just tradition, but an essential part of broadcasting under the Communications Act,” said Rosenworcel in a statement READ MORE

 Dish: 750 blackouts have come as retrans fees have grown 27,400%

“Broadcasters continue to use their in-market monopoly power to put profits ahead of their public interest obligations. The proof is in the numbers: Consumers have suffered more than 750 broadcaster blackouts since 2010, and the retransmission consent fees that broadcasters demand grew 27,400% between 2005 and 2016.”  READ MORE  

John Malone Dishes on What Cable Companies Need to Do

If you’re mad as hell over your rising cable bill, blame programmers not your cable company, Liberty Media Chairman John Malone said in a take-no-prisoners interview Wednesday. “The villains are usually the programmers . . . We get the blame for it in the distribution side even though the pressure on pricing is all coming out of content.” READ MORE

NBCUniversal broadcast revenue up 5.3% to $2.2B

That growth was thanks largely to distribution and other revenue, up a whopping 36.1% during the quarter due to higher retransmission consent fees. READ MORE

Retransmission revenues explode

Retransmission growth continued to be a huge source of revenue for broadcasters in the second quarter. The results all feed into a recent report from Kagan that stated the total amount of retransmission fees collected by U.S. broadcasters from traditional and virtual MVPDs is expected to reach $12.8 billion by 2023. READ MORE

CBS Q2 revenue jumps 9% thanks to higher subscription, affiliate fees

CBS’s entertainment revenues grew 12% to $2.18 billion, sparked by 38% growth in affiliate and subscription fees, thanks to higher station affiliation fees and subscriber growth at CBS All Access.  READ MORE

Raycom Stations Dark on AT&T U-verse

“We share our customers’ frustration because Raycom is deliberately preventing its stations from reaching their homes until Raycom receives a significant increase in fees even though the same people can still watch its shows for free over-the-air and, typically, online at each network’s website or using those network’s apps. We have asked Raycom repeatedly to allow our customers to watch while we work this business matter out privately, but Raycom continues to refuse.” READ MORE  

Dish’s Latest Blackout: Satcaster Loses TV Stations in 38 Markets in Fight With Tegna

Dish charged that Tenga was seeking “above-market rate increases” that are twice what the satcaster currently pays. “With Dish willing to grant an extension and a retroactive true-up on rates, Tegna had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by leaving the channels up. Instead, Tegna chose to turn its back on its public interest obligations and use innocent consumers as bargaining chips.” READ MORE  

Tegna and Dish Reach Agreement Ending Blackout in 38 Markets

Tensions have grown as broadcasters demand higher rates from cable- and satellite-TV providers that deliver their programming to consumers, increasing the number of blackouts this year. Fees paid to broadcast networks and stations by subscription TV services may jump 21% to almost $6 billion this year, and 90% to $9.3 billion by 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence. READ MORE  

Net retrans revenue to reach $13.5B by 2021, Wells Fargo says

SNL Kagan’s projections call for the average TV station’s monthly per-subscriber fee to grow from $1.40 this year to $2.21 by 2022. READ MORE

Retrans increased 63% for cable operators in one year, FCC report says

The amount of broadcast retransmission licensing fees paid by cable operators increased from $7.8 billion in 2013 to $12.7 billion in 2014, or 63.2 percent, according to a report on cable pricing issued this week by the FCC. READ MORE 

Dish uses Senate hearings to blast broadcasters over blackouts

Dish called out the increasing amounts of money broadcasters demand for retransmission consent, adding that retransmission fees have risen 22,500 percent between 2005 and 2015.  “If the price of other consumer goods rose that fast, consumers would be priced out of almost everything – a dozen eggs would be nearly $350, a large coffee would be over $400 and a gallon of milk would be over $700,” said Schneider in her testimony.

Schneider said that “broadcasters’ disproportionate leverage” has led a rise in blackouts, from 12 blackouts in 2010 to more than 180 blackouts in 2015. “Blackouts inflict real injury on distributors, while barely leaving a mark on the broadcasters.”

In addition to going in on broadcasters, Dish’s Schneider also called out programmers for bundling practices that force distributors to accept channels they don’t want in order to get the channels their customer do want. READ MORE

Pay-TV consumer rate increases have not kept up with programming costs growth

While pay-TV operators continue to face year-end rebuke for their annual rate increases for video services, these price increases have not kept up with the growth in programming costs, Evercore analyst Vijay Jayant told investors. While consumers will pay, on average, about 3 percent to 4 percent more per month on their pay-TV bill, operators will pay 8 percent to 10 percent more this year for programming. READ MORE

The Top Ten Questions for Broadcasters About Retransmission Consent

Why are consumers forced to pay for the same broadcast channels that are offered free over the air? How can outdated retransmission consent regulations be justified when — despite the dramatic increase in fees paid to broadcasters — local stations are scaling back their investment in local news, consolidating news gathering efforts and cutting newsroom staff? READ MORE

The Disequilibrium of Power: How Retransmission Consent Went So Wrong, and How to Fix it

When retransmission consent was conceived, the entire focus was on ensuring the health of local news and information, not on national programming such as sports and entertainment. READ MORE

Sports

Dish Sacks NFL Network

Dish Network dropped the NFL Network Thursday night over a contract dispute, according to the league. Dish in a statement said: “Our contract with NFL Network has expired. We remain open to a fair offer that allows us to carry this content at an appropriate value to our customers.” READ MORE

DISH’s Old Retrans Tricks Take on New Meaning

TV consultant Tim Krass . . . said in an interview he can see how dropping the NFL Network is a “smart move” for DISH considering the network shares rights to many of its NFL games with other networks. While the NFL Network retains exclusive rights to eight Thursday night games, it will be sharing 10 others with CBS and NBC in the coming season.

“[Subscribers] are going to be able to see those games in another place in their package,” said Krass. “You have to run the numbers: How much money are we going to gain by not paying this license fee every month? And because the fees are so much, you’ve got to take a serious look at it.” READ MORE

Comcast Pulls Plug on YES Network

“YES Network carried approximately 130 baseball games this past season and well over 90 percent of our 900,000-plus customers who receive YES Network didn’t watch the equivalent of even one quarter of those games during the season, even while the Yankees were in the hunt for a playoff berth,” Comcast said in a statement. READ MORE

How the Dodgers’ $8.3B TV deal turned into an unmitigated disaster

And that’s really the lesson in this Dodgers snafu, an unnaturally large microcosm of how the sports industry has transformed in the last quarter-century. The smartest executives saw the power of TV money, whether national for the NFL or local in baseball, and hoarded it like a prepper does gold. As teams celebrated their newfound bounty, those with cable and satellite subscriptions bore the brunt of the cost. READ MORE

DIRECTV Says Charter Got a Deal to Carry TWC SportsNet LA

“We continue to hope TWC and the Dodger front office will compromise with the rest of Southern California’s providers so all Dodger fans can watch their games without burdening everyone else with significantly higher fees,” reads the DirecTV statement. READ MORE

Standoff Over Dodgers TV Channel Goes into Extra Innings

Time Warner Cable … made two miscalculations for the new Dodgers channel, SportsNet LA. They overestimated consumer interest and underestimated the amount of resistance from other pay-TV operators, including DirecTV, Charter Communications, Verizon FiOS and Cox Communications, which all have balked at the cost of the channel. READ MORE

Simers: Dodgers’ Turn to Play Everyone for a Fool

Aren’t fees to watch the Dodgers and Lakers just another clever way of collecting public money for the welfare of our billionaire sports owners? We cringe at the very notion of having our money, which has already been collected in taxes, being used to help fund a new NFL stadium. So why isn’t there revolt in the streets at the thought of having to pay $8 or $9 a month for the rest of our TV viewing lives to tune in the Dodgers and Lakers? READ MORE

How Your Rising Cable Bill is Making Sports Teams and Star Players Rich

If you could purchase only the TV channels you want, coaches’ and athletes’ huge salaries would probably be cut. And that’s just as it should be. Powerful broadcasting interests are fighting to preserve a business model that rewards them and their clients, chief among them the American sports industry. The system denies all of us meaningful choices. All subscribers end up subsidizing programming we never watch. READ MORE

How Local Sports Could Change All of Television

Local cable providers such as Cox, Charter, AT&T U-Verse, and DirecTV refuse to pay Time Warner a licensing fee rumored to be $4 to $5, and possibly as high as $8 over time. (Remember that the fee for ESPN, a national network, is in the $5 range.)  READ MORE

Rising TV Fees Mean All Viewers Pay to Keep Sports Fans Happy

DirecTV, the country’s most popular satellite service, and Verizon FiOS have started adding a $2 to $3 monthly surcharge in markets like New York and Los Angeles to pay for regional sports networks. The eye-popping price tags have restarted debate about a topic near and dear to sports fans, fairness: many TV customers never watch the mightily expensive channels at all, yet almost all must pay. Pretty much everybody in the business agrees that the overall costs are outrageous.  READ MORE

Cable Networks

Fox’s total revenues rise 2% despite lower TV ad income

But cable networks revenue jumped to $4.33 billion, well up from $3.9 billion one year ago. Fox cable’s domestic affiliate revenue rose 10% due to higher pricing at Fox News, RSNs, FX Networks and FS1, and domestic advertising revenue rose 6% thanks to higher ratings at Fox News. READ MORE

Fox News, FBN Dark To Dish Subscribers

In a carriage dispute, Dish subscribers can no longer see Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. READ MORE

NBC Threatens Blackout of Cable One

Giving consumers one more retrans dispute to end the year, NBCUniversal has threatened to block out its broadcast network and 10 cable channels on Cable One if a renewal deal isn’t in place by New Year’s Day. If an agreement isn’t in place by Jan. 1, NBCU says around 475,000 Cable One video subscribers spread across regions including the Midwest will lose access to USA, Syfy, Bravo, MSNBC, Telemundo and NBC. READ MORE

Dish Customers Lose Access to Turner’s CNN, Cartoon Network and Other Nets

It’s the latest head-butting over carriage terms in the pay-TV biz, as programmers continue to seek regular fee increases for their networks. READ MORE

Cable TV Contributes More than 60 Percent of Hollywood Profits

How dependent is Hollywood on cable TV networks? Thanks to ad growth and gains from carriage fee negotiations, cable network units now contribute more than 60% of nearly all entertainment giants’ operating profits, according to a THR analysis of data from the first three quarters of 2013. READ MORE

21st Century Fox’s Chase Carey: ‘A La Carte is a Fantasy’

“The reality is that this content is such an important part of daily life that people will give up food and a roof over their head before they give up television.” says Chase Carey, President of 21st Century Fox. READ MORE

Cable ONE’s Fight with Turner Broadcasting: Inside Program Packaging

Earlier this year, Cablevision Systems Corp. sued Viacom over its bundling of networks. Viacom, Cablevision charged, “effectively forces Cablevision’s customers to pay for and receive little-watched channels in order to get the channels they actually want.” Recently, Cable ONE tried to unbundle Turner Networks, but Turner said ‘no,’ and took their nine channels dark. READ MORE