(Updated: 10:35 a.m. on Nov. 28)
Fox affiliate WFXT-TV remains unavailable to Verizon FiOS customers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in a retransmission-consent dispute.
The Boston-based station, owned by Cox Media Group, went dark to the telco’s customers at 3 a.m. on Thanksgiving after the parties failed to reach a renewal accord. That meant that some 400,000 FiOS customers missed the Dallas Cowboys’ Turkey Day turkey against the Philadelphia Eagles and may be without Fox’s NFL lineup on Sunday.
At presstime, WFXT-TV’s website was topped by a notice headlined "Attention: Verizon FiOS Customers," alerting them to the disconnect and urging them to call the video provider. The following message appears upon clicking the box.
“We are sorry that our viewers that subscribe to Verizon FiOS have lost access to FOX 25. By law, FOX 25 must negotiate carriage agreements with cable companies like Verizon FiOS. Usually, these deals are reached without any disruption to your service. In fact, our company has negotiated dozens of agreements with only the rarest of disruptions. Unfortunately, so far,Verizon FiOS has refused to reach a fair, market-based deal to carry FOX 25. . Our existing agreement with Verizon FiOS has expired, and we cannot provide Verizon FiOS customers with live access to their favorite FOX programs until a new deal is reached.
If you want to regain live access to your favorite shows on FOX 25 like NFL coverage on Sunday, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bones,The Simpsons, Gotham, New Girl, Sleepy Hollow and the FOX 25 News, call Verizon FiOS at 1-800-837-4966 and tell them to BRING BACK FOX 25.”
Verizon issued the following statement: "Unfortunately, new station owners Cox Media Group neglected the wishes of their own viewers and removed its FOX channel(s) from the FiOS TV lineup on Nov. 27 at 3 a.m., repeating a step they’ve taken before in other markets. In the past two years Cox has blacked out viewers in at least 11 different markets, according to the American Television Alliance. We are hopeful that Cox will reconsider these drastic and anticompetitive tactics, return to the negotiations, reduce its demands for millions more in fees and work with Verizon to reach an agreement that is reasonable and in its own viewers’ best interest. Overall content costs have risen cumulatively 20-30 percent since 2010. Verizon is taking a stand for our customers. Verizon customers can check our website, www.verizon.com/content, for any updates, as negotiations with Cox Media Group continue."
The American Television Alliance sized up the situation following the Thanksgiving Day disconnect thusly: "The biggest turkey today is Cox, who is taking away the NFL and other programming from Americans who just want to watch TV with their families. By putting profits ahead of consumers on a national holiday, broadcasters are showing their true colors. Cox has blacked out viewers in at least 12 markets in just the last few years, proving that blackouts are a central part of their business model. On behalf of these viewers, thanks, but no thanks for the blackout, Cox; how about giving us our local TV station back?"