Retrans Resolutions

Retransmission consent and cablenetwork
arriage negotiations took a more cordial
turn as the year came to a close, with a handful of
deals reached by their Dec. 31 deadline, one pact
extended into the middle of this month and a few
smaller deals still pending.

On the resolution front, Dish Network reached a
long-term carriage deal for Chambers Communications’
ABC affiliate stations in Eugene, Medford,
and Bend, Ore., which had been dark since Dec. 16.
DirecTV completed six new retrans deals before
Dec. 31 with Hearst Television, Granite Broadcasting,
Gannett, Red River Broadcasting, KLAS-TV and
Sarkes Tarzian Inc., affecting “millions” of its customers,
according to the satellite giant.


Suddenlink Communications also reached a last-minute deal with Viacom on Dec. 31, ensuring
that the St. Louis-based MSO’s 1.2 million customers would not lose access to popular
channels like MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and TV Land. While terms of the agreement
were not disclosed, it appears Suddenlink won out on at least one major sticking point
in the negotiations — carriage of the Epix movie channel.

Early in the talks, Suddenlink said that Viacom, a part owner of Epix, had pushed for the
channel to be carried on an expanded-basic tier. The new agreement appears to allow the
MSO to carry the channel as a premium service.

Suddenlink said in a statement Epix will be made available in the next few months and that
customers “will have a choice about whether or not they want” the channel.

Perhaps the biggest potential retransmission consent battle of the year — involving 28 Sinclair
Broadcast Group stations in several Time Warner Cable markets — was avoided after
both sides agreed to extend their current agreement through Jan. 14. Negotiations are continuing,
sources familiar with the talks said.

According to some analysts, TWC may have the upper hand in those talks, mainly because
of separate agreements with broadcast networks to carry national feeds and out-of-market affiliates while the MSO negotiates with Sinclair. In a statement, TWC president and chief operating
officer Rob Marcus said that the company has the right to carry programming from
the Big Four networks in the event any of the Sinclair stations go dark.


Time Warner Cable has a smaller dispute that continues to smolder in Upstate New York and
Vermont, involving four Smith Media stations. WKTV (NBC) and its digital subchannel, WKTVD2
(The CW), in Utica, N.Y,. and WFFF-TV (Fox) and WVNY (ABC) in Burlington, Vt., went dark
to TWC customers in those areas on Dec. 15 and are still not being carried by the cable operator.

In the meantime, Time Warner Cable is importing WBRE-TV, a Nexstar Broadcastingowned
Wilkes-Barre, Pa., NBC station, to its Utica customers. Burlington customers have
access to Watertown, N.Y., Fox affiliate WNYF and Utica ABC affiliate WUTR.

Several smaller disputes were ongoing at press time last week, including Dish Network’s
battle with Frontier Radio involving Fox and ABC stations in Central Georgia that went dark
on Jan. 1; and DirecTV’s dispute with Northwest Broadcasting, involving 5 stations in Binghamton,
N.Y.; Medford, Ore.; Yakima and Spokane, Wash.; and Laredo, Texas.