Toledo Becomes Latest Fee Battleground

In yet another nasty MSO-programmer dispute over license fees, Univision
Communications Inc. pulled its signal off Buckeye Cablevision Inc.'s Buckeye
CableSystem in Toledo, Ohio, Thursday.

Following a breakdown in negotiations, Univision -- which has been carried on
the 130,000-subscriber system for 10 years -- deactivated its decoder at 8:30
a.m. Thursday.

For the past decade, Univision hasn't charged Buckeye any license fees. But
the programmer came to the cable system in September with a rate card calling
for initial 14-cent-per-subscriber, per-month license fees. Over five years,
that contract would cost Buckeye $1.2 million.

Buckeye has balked at shelling out any license fees to Univision, noting that
the Spanish-language programmer is carried free on cable in 32 markets serving
42 million subscribers through must-carry. Univision has broadcast stations in
those DMAs, but it doesn't have one in Toledo, where the population is only 3
percent to 4 percent Hispanic.

Following six months of negotiations, Univision's latest offer to Buckeye
called for license fees of seven cents over three years, or $600,000 total. The
cable operator's counteroffers have included carrying Univision on broadcast
basic, moving it off expanded basic, or offering it a la carte for a fee to

Univision, in turn, argued that 165 cable operators now pay license fees for
the Spanish service.

In a letter to TheToledo Blade,Tim Carry, Univision's
senior vice president of affiliate relations, said Buckeye pays all of its
English-language networks for programming, but it has refused to pay 'a nominal
fee' for Univision.

'Even worse, Buckeye CableSystem is insisting that Spanish-language viewers
pay separately for Univision programming, although Buckeye does not charge
English-language viewers separately for channels such as MTV [MTV: Music
Television], ESPN, CNN [Cable News Network] or CNBC,' Carry wrote in his

The battle has been fought very publicly, with Toledo Mayor Carleton
Finkbeiner and the city's Hispanic Affairs Commission rallying around Univision.
And both Univision and Buckeye have been running newspaper ads regarding the

The programmer also sent letters to subscribers suggesting that they switch
to direct-broadcast satellite. DirecTV Inc. has run Spanish- and
English-language ads in the market.