In what has become an annual rite for television distributors and station operators, several hundred retransmission-consent deals were set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31.
But unlike other years, when high-profile agreements expired in major metropolitan markets, the drama seems to be mostly in small and midsized locales.
That could change, though, as clocks across the country get ready to chime in the New Year: some distributors and broadcasters don't reveal the status of their retransmission deals until the last minute.
The American Cable Association has said most of its 900 members have nearly 1,000 retransmission deals up for renewal at the end of the year.
The most contentious of the negotiations as of press time on Dec. 29 appeared to be with Albritton Communications' ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in the Washington, D.C. area. At least three distributors - Shenandoah Communications (ShenTel), Cox Communications and RCN - had pacts with that station set to expire on Dec. 31.
For ShenTel, the WJLA negotiations seemed to have hit a wall. But ShenTel said talks were still under way over WCHS-TV (ABC) and WVAH-TV (Fox) in Charleston, W. Va.; WLFL (The CW) and WRDC (MyNetworkTV) in Clarksville, Va.; WRLH-TV (Fox) in Richmond, Va. and WTTG (Fox) in Shenandoah County Va.
St. Louis-based Suddenlink Communications was in talks for seven stations: Hoak Media's KALB-TV (NBC), KNOE (CBS) and KAQY (ABC) in Louisiana and Arkansas; and Meredith Corp.'s KPHO (CBS) in Phoenix, KCTV (CBS) and KSMO-TV (MyNetworkTV) in Kansas City and WSMV (NBC) in Nashville.
Suddenlink claimed Hoak wanted rate increases of as much as 200% and that Meredith sought a 65% hike. Both station groups countered they only wanted fair value for their content.
Verizon Communications completed four deals on Dec. 22 for FiOS TV with Sinclair Broadcast Group stations and was negotiating new deals for two Media General stations, in Providence, R.I. (NBC affiliate WJAR), and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. (WFLA, an NBC affiliate).
Time Warner Cable was still in talks about restoring Cordillera Communications stations KRIS-TV (NBC) and KAJA (Telemundo) in Corpus Christi, Texas, after those stations went dark on Dec. 13.
In a high-profile, non-broadcast carriage dispute, at press time Time Warner Cable and MSG Networks had not agreed on terms to keep regional sports networks MSG and MSG Plus in the channel lineup after Dec. 31. Time Warner Cable dropped MSG-owned Fuse, a music channel, on Dec. 16, and indicated MSG had tied carriage of Fuse into the RSN contract talks.
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