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Retrans

Retransmission Fees and Blackouts Targeted in Two Separate Bills Before Congress

CableTVTwo bills introduced into Congress this week are taking aim at retransmission fees and blackouts.

The CHOICE or “Consumers Have Options in Choosing Entertainment” Act, introduced by California Representatives Anna Eshoo (D) and Zoe Lofgren (D), would ask the FCC to force interim carriage of a TV station during a retrans negotiation impasse and would allow consumers to opt out of paying for TV stations that elect retransmission consent. You can read all five provisions after the jump.

The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act, re-introduced by Rep. Steve Scalise (R) is “a comprehensive video reform bill that repeals outdated laws including compulsory copyright licenses, eliminates various mandates on private sector companies and consumers, and removes certain FCC broadcast and media ownership rules.” Read more

Bonten Media Stations Warn Viewers of Possible DISH Network Blackout

bonten media group logoBonten Media Group and DISH Network are facing a Saturday deadline to negotiate a new carriage agreement before Bonten’s 16 stations go dark on DISH.

On some Bonten stations, like KECI and KCFW in Missoula, Mont., viewers are being warned about the possibility of a service interruption. “We are simply advising customers that this could happen so they’re not surprised or caught unprepared if they want to prepare,” Richard Reingold, vice president and general manager of Bonten’s Montana stations, told the Missoulian.

The current carriage agreement expires December 8. Bonten Media says “good faith negotiations” are continuing.

Media General Asks FCC to Take Sides in Retrans Negotiations with DISH Network

media general_dishThe growing animosity between DISH Network and Media General is now being played out in front of the FCC after Media General filed its own complaint with the Commission saying DISH is abusing the process in its battle over retransmission fees.

DISH Network filed a complaint with the FCC on October 18, asking the FCC to force Media General to negotiate in good faith after negotiations with the station group that started on October 1 stalled. DISH claimed Media General didn’t talk to them for 11 days.

Media General has now filed its own complaint with FCC asking the Commission to dismiss DISH’s complaint and “refer DISH to the Enforcement Bureau for consideration of the appropriate actions for DISH’s abuse of the Commission’s processes and for its misrepresentations to and lack of candor before the Commission.” Media General is also asking DISH to pay its attorney’s fees for responding to what they call a frivolous complaint.

The blackout affects DISH customers in 17 markets including Columbus, OH, Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL, and Hattiesburg, MS.

[TVNewsCheck]

News-Press & Gazette Stations Back on DirecTV

keyt_directv_304The nearly month long blackout between News-Press & Gazette and DirecTV is over.

The two companies reached an agreement over retransmission fees this afternoon. Details of the agreement were not disclosed.

While the financial deal seems to be settled, there seems to be some lingering bad feelings between the two companies. In a statement sent to TVSpy, DirecTV said, “News-Press & Gazette has returned its 13 local television stations to DIRECTV customers homes after unnecessarily suspending them for more than two weeks beginning Oct. 9. While we are pleased NPG has restored the stations, we’re equally as frustrated that they took them away in the first place.”

The statement goes on to say, “This is just another unfortunate example of broadcasters violating the public trust in an attempt to extract higher fees from our customers. Given the fact that there has been a record high of 110 broadcaster blackouts in only the first ten months of this year (with more likely to come by year’s end), we continue to ask Congress to intervene and fix this badly broken system that has enabled some stations to use viewers’ loyalty against them rather than reward them for it.”

TVSpy has not been able to contact News-Press & Gazette for comment.

News-Press & Gazette Lifts DirecTV Blackout for First Game of World Series

keyt_directv_304Viewers who watch News Press & Gazette stations on DirecTV got to watch the first game of the World Series from home last night after a temporary truce was called between the station group and the satellite provider.

In a statement obtained by TVSpy, DirecTV said, “While we make progress toward a new agreement, we are pleased to have tonight obtained News-Press & Gazette’s permission to temporarily return its five FOX channels to DIRECTV so customers in those affected communities can watch the opening game of the World Series. Both NPG and DIRECTV are optimistic about completing a new agreement to return all channels in their entirety very soon.”

NP&G blacked out its DirecTV signal after the previous carriage agreement between the two expired September 30.

News Press & Gazette owns five FOX stations, including KNPN in St. Joseph, MO, and KQFX in Columbia, MO.

DISH Says Media General Not Playing Fair in Retrans Fight, Asks FCC for Help

media general_dishDISH Network has appealed to the FCC to “immediately require Media General to negotiate in good faith to resolve a blackout that began Oct. 1.”

The satellite broadcaster released a statement saying it told the FCC in a recently filed complaint, “Media General’s conduct violates the Commission’s rules requiring good faith negotiation for retransmission consent rights, because, among other things, Media General failed to respond for 11 days to DISH’s last pre-blackout offer.”

>UPDATE: On Friday, Media General responded by saying in part, “Unfortunately, DISH would prefer to manufacture a dispute, and now ask for government intervention, for its own purposes, rather than pay us a fair, market-based rate for the value of our stations.” You can read the entire statement after the jump.

DISH executive vice president Dave Shull said in the statement, “DISH customers and Media General viewers were without their shows and events for 11 days before Media General would even contact us.” Shull added, “We reacted with a counter offer within hours and Media General has yet to respond. DISH is asking the FCC to act expeditiously to address Media General’s bad faith, push them back to the negotiating table and submit to mediation to get programming back to consumers.” Read more

Santa Barbara Station Dropped from DirecTV in Retrans Fight

KEYT_directvViewers of Santa Barbara ABC affiliate KEYT won’t be able to watch their favorite ABC shows on DirecTV after the station and satellite provider failed to agree over retransmission fees Wednesday.

KEYT general manager Mark Danielson said in a statement on the News-Press & Gazette owned station’s website that DirecTV “terminated carriage” and he was disappointed “DirecTV would deprive its subscribers of KEYT’s highly rated national and local programming.”

DirectTV sent TVSpy a statement saying the opposite: “News-Press & Gazette Company (NPG) has blacked out 13 local broadcast stations to DIRECTV’s local customers and will not let us restore these channels unless DIRECTV commits to more than triple the price we currently pay to retransmit their “free” TV signals.” The statement added, “We simply won’t accept a price increase of this magnitude that would have to be passed on to our customers.”

Danielson said the rate increase his station is looking for is “very modest.” Read more

Media General Stations Go Dark on Dish Network

media generalMedia General stations in 18 markets have gone dark on Dish Network as the two companies failed to reach a new carriage agreement by midnight Monday.

Media General owns stations in Birmingham, Mobile, Tampa, Augusta, Columbus, Ga., Savannah, Hattiesburg, Ms.,  Jackson, Greenville, Raleigh-Durham, Asheville, Charleston, Florence-Myrtle Beach, Greenville-Spartanburg, Providence, Columbus, Ohio, Roanoke and the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee.

John Carlin, an anchor at Media General’s WSLS in Roanoke, interviewed VP-GM Leesa Wilcher about the impasse. Watch after the jump. Read more

CBS and Time Warner Cable Reach Carriage Deal, Ending Month-Long Blackout

Exactly one month after CBS stations were pulled from Time Warner Cable, the two parties have reached a new carriage deal. CBS programming is expected to return to Time Warner Cable customers by 6pmET.

Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed, although CBS said in a statement that the agreement includes retransmission consent, as well as Showtime Anytime and VOD, for CBS stations in New York (WCBS-WLNY), Los Angeles (KCBS-KCAL) and Dallas (KTVT-KTXA).

Time Warner Exec Says CBS Wants to Control Your TV, Take Your DVR

After CBS signed its deal with Verizon last week, Time Warner Cable executive vice president and chief video and content officer Melinda Witmer fired back in a YouTube video produced by the cable company with allegations that CBS is the bad guy in the ongoing battle between the two media companies.

“CBS announced today that they signed a deal with Verizon, and has suggested that they’ve offered us the same deal that Verizon just signed,” said Witmer in the video posted to Time Warner Cable’s website and its YouTube channel. “And all I can say is, our condolences to Verizon if they signed the deal CBS put in front of us.

At the 5:00 mark in the above video, Witmer says that as part of the deal offered to TWC, CBS stipulated consumers would have to register their TV sets, presumably with CBS, before they can turn them on. Witmer also says the deal involved viewers, “giving up your DVR capability in the future.” Read more

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