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Retrans Front: Mostly Quiet

In what has become an annual
rite for television distributors and station
operators, several hundred retransmissionconsent
deals were set to expire at 11:59
p.m. on Dec. 31.

But unlike other years, when highprofile 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 chimed 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 Shen-
Tel 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, Tenn. Suddenlink claimed Hoak
wanted rate increases of as much as 200%
and that Meredith sought a 65% hike. Both
station groups countered that 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.

Mediacom, meanwhile,
said late on Dec. 29 it reached
a deal in principle for retransmission
rights for nine stations
(NBC, CBS, ABC and The
CW affiliates) in 10 markets.

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 lineup after Dec. 31. TWC
dropped MSG-owned Fuse, a music channel,
on Dec. 16, and indicated MSG had tied carriage
of Fuse into the RSN contract talks.