News

FiOS Suffers Retrans Blackouts

1/16/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Newport Television-owned stations in Syracuse
and Albany, N.Y., and Harrisburg, Pa., went dark on
Verizon Communications FiOS TV systems in those markets
on Jan. 12, after the parties could not reach a deal.

The stations are WXXA (Fox) in Albany, WSYR (ABC) in
Syracuse and WHP (CBS) in Harrisburg.

The impasse comes just as viewers were gearing up for
the National Football League divisional playoffs. FiOS TV
customers in the Albany market were in danger of missing
the New Orleans Saints vs. the San Francisco 49ers on
Jan. 14 and the New York Giants vs. the Green Bay Packers
on Jan. 15 on Fox.

Harrisburg’s FiOS TV customers could be shut out from
the Jan. 14 divisional playoff between the Denver Broncos
and New England Patriots and Sunday’s matchup between
the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens on CBS.

This is the first time that a local broadcaster has removed
its stations from FiOS as part of the expiration of
a retransmission consent agreement, Verizon spokesman
John Bonomo said. Cable network Tennis Channel
removed its programming from FiOS in September; the
parties continue to negotiate on a new agreement and
hope to return the channel to the FiOS lineup.

In a statement, Bonomo said the telco continues to negotiate
with Newport and has reached other retrans deals
with stations in all other Newport markets.

“Verizon has repeatedly offered Newport fair fees consistent
with the marketplace, but so far Newport has refused
our offers,” Bonomo said in the statement. “It is
unfortunate that Newport has decided to remove this programming
from our FiOS TV lineup, harming our customers
in these three areas.”

FiOS TV pointed out that customers can receive the
channels over the air. For football fans, Verizon Wireless,
through its agreement with the NFL, offers a live audio
broadcast of NFL playoff games on select mobile devices.”

Newport TV, based in Kansas City, owns about 60 stations
in 22 markets across the country.

Newport vice president of operations and associate general
counsel Michael DiPasquale said last Friday he had
submitted an offer to FiOS for the stations the evening of
Jan. 12, but had yet to hear a response at press time.

While he said the impasse concerns pricing
for the stations, the two are also apart on other
issues, including channel placement and the
length of the deal.

Newport has encouraged customers concerned
with missing out on its programming
to switch from Verizon to alternative providers
in the areas like Time Warner Cable in New
York, Comcast in Harrisburg, DirecTV and
Dish Network.

“The bottom line is that Newport TV wants
to get a deal done,” Pasquale said. “We are
ready, willing and able to negotiate, but negotiations
are a two-way street.”

While a resolution was still possible for FiOS
and Newport before kickoff time, Time Warner
Cable’s impasse with Cordillera Communications’
NBC and Telemundo stations in
Corpus Christi, Texas, continues. The broadcaster
asked the Federal Communications
Commission to intervene last week, claiming
TWC is not negotiating in good faith, an accusation the cabler
denied. Separately, TWC’s carriage dispute with regional
sports networks MSG and MSG Plus in New York
continued into its second week.

September