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RFD-TV, Fans Protest Planned Verizon FiOS Drop

RFD-TV founder Patrick Gottsch once again is unleashing the force of his subscribers’ complaints — by phone, email and printed letter — this time on Verizon FiOS TV, as his network is slated to be dropped from the FiOS lineup on Jan. 31.

Gottsch sent Multichannel News a fat binder filled with thousands of pages of, mostly, printed-out emails that RFD-TV viewers sent him protesting the FiOS drop. Binders also were delivered to Verizon officials, including chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam and vice president of programming and marketing Terry Denson, amid other expressions of protest from RFD-TV and customers encouraged by the network to complain.

In 2013, Gottsch sent Multichannel News a similar binder from customers protesting Comcast’s planned drop of RFD-TV in some Western markets. Comcast didn’t restore the rural-focused programmer, and FiOS doesn’t seem to be prepared to change its mind either, as Gottsch said Denson told him.

“This was not one of those rate-increase fights,” Gottsch said. “It wasn’t even discussed. They just dropped us.” RFD-TV — not one of FiOS’s higher-rated channels — costs “pennies,” and Gottsch said he offered to cut the rate by 25% to forestall a drop.

Raymond McConville, a Verizon spokesman, said Friday the RFD-TV drop is part of an ongoing effort to control content costs.

Gottsch pointed out that FiOS over the past year dropped Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, BlueHighways TV and The Weather Channel, and said, “It would just seem to me that the guys in the New York office just have no connection with rural programming, and they need to get out of the office more and realize that they’ve got a substantial number of subscribers that do subscribe to Verizon for this rural-themed programming.”

McConville said Verizon had no bias against rural programming — “it’s just an unfortunate reality of the business” that sometimes channels have to be removed to control costs.