WFXT Remains in Retrans Limbo for FiOS's Boston Subs

Pricing At Issue In Stalemate with Cox-Owned Boston Affiliate

Almost a week since they disconnected, Verizon FiOS and WFXT-TV, Boston’s Fox affiliate, remain in the heat of a retransmission-consent dispute.

Although the sides continue to negotiate, it’s unclear if the parties are making any progress toward restoring the Cox Media-owned station to some 400,000 of the telco’s video customers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. WFXT-TV, which Cox gained from Fox in October, has been dark to Verizon FiOS subscribers since 3 a.m. on Thanksgiving.

The Boston station came into Cox’s camp as part of a swap that put KTVU and KICU into the Fox Television Stations group in exchange for WFXT and WHBQ Memphis.  

According to a spokesman, FiOS asked if it could continue to pay the same license fee it had allocated to Fox under its extant contract that was set to expire at year-end, but Cox pushed up the date to the morning of Nov. 27.

On the surface, the difference in the parties' position on monthly subscriber fees appears to be significant. FiOS contends that WFXT is seeking a triple-digit increase, a rate that represents more than double what it pays to any other Cox station.

For its part, the station didn’t address any of those specific claims. Instead vice president and general manager Tom Raponi issued the following statement:  “Fox 25 continues to negotiate with Verizon FiOS to return Fox 25 and its popular news, sports, and entertainment programming to Verizon FiOS customers.  We understand the frustration that Verizon FiOS customers are experiencing, and we are working to secure a new agreement as quickly as possible.  We are hopeful we can resolve this soon to minimize any further inconvenience.

The outage is a rare occurrence for FiOS, which saw Newport pull stations in Albany (Fox), and Syracuse, N.Y. (ABC) and Harrisburg, Penn (CBS) for less than two full days in 2012.

On the cable side, FiOS, which had a carriage deal through the National Cable Television Cooperative, hit the net with Tennis Channel in September of 2011, before returning the service under its own pact early in 2012.

Politicians have also weighed in on the carriage contretemps in The Hub. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and the FCC are both pushing Cox and Verizon to end their retransmission-consent stalemate.