Verizon and Tegna Reach Agreement on New Retrans Deal, End Blackout

Tegna HQ in McLean, Va.
(Image credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A pay TV blackout that has kept four Tegna-owned stations off Verizon Fios, including CBS affiliate WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C., has ended. 

"Good news! We’ve been able to reach an agreement with Tegna to restore their channels on Fios TV," Verizon announced in a short statement on its landing page Saturday. "We appreciate your patience during these talks, and we thank you for your support."

The blackout also involved Tegna stations in Norfolk, Va. (ABC affiliate WVEC); Buffalo, N.Y. (NBC affiliate WGRZ); and Harrisburg, Penn. (Fox affiliate WPMT).

The agreement was reached Saturday morning. 

Of course, it's the righteous indignation of the rhetoric that makes these disputes fun to follow.

On Tuesday last week, Verizon released a statement confirming the stations had been pulled off Fios: "As of January 4 at 8:00 p.m. ET, Tegna failed to agree to fair terms of its contract with Verizon. Unfortunately, Tegna has a reputation for this type of practice with providers, which ultimately results in pulling content from viewers."

Tegna responded: “We have been working for months to reach a fair, market-based agreement with Verizon based on the competitive terms we’ve used to reach deals with other major providers. We even offered Verizon an extension that kept our stations available to viewers through the holiday weekend. We are especially disappointed that Verizon has pulled access at a time when local broadcast stations are a lifeline, connecting people to the news, information, and entertainment they need and want most. We hope that Verizon realizes how important our stations are to their subscribers and works with us to reach a fair agreement.” 

Meanwhile, the American Television Alliance, which represents pay TV operators, used the opportunity to publicly lobby about increasing broadcast retransmission licensing fees.

“American consumers cannot continue to be used as private leverage to extort higher fees for broadcast conglomerates like Tegna," the group said. ■

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!