FiOS, Newport TV Disconnect in Retrans Dispute

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Newport Television-owned stations in Syracuse and Albany, N.Y. and Harrisburg, Pa., went dark on Verizon 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, Pa.
The impasse comes just as viewers were gearing up for the NFL divisional playoffs. FiOS 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. FiOS 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.
In a statement, Verizon spokesman John 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."
He added that customers can receive the channel 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.
According to Bonomo, this is the first time that a local broadcaster has removed its stations from FiOS after the expiration of a retransmission-consent agreement. Cable network The Tennis Channel removed its programming from FiOS in September, and the parties continue to negotiate on a new agreement and hope to return the channel to the FiOS lineup.
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.
Bonomo acknowledged Newport's Jan. 12 proposal, but said it was "unreasonable."
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, as well as obtaining the signals over the air. "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 is still possible with FiOS and Newport before kickoff time, Time Warner Cable's impasse with Cordillera Communication 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 in New York continued into through its second week.

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