Retrans: Sinclair and Bright House Make Peace, DirecTV and Northwest Impasse Continues
January 24, 2011
MULTIPLE CITIES: Sinclair
Broadcasting today buried the hatchet with another pay TV carrier over
retransmission consent, while a stand-off between DirecTV and Northwest
Broadcasting dragged on.
Hunt Valley, Md., Sinclair entered a multi-year agreement with Bright House
Networks, based in Syracuse, N.Y., for carriage of six TV stations in four
markets, the broadcaster said today. The arrangement between the two was
previously covered by Sinclair’s agreement with Time Warner Cable, former owner
of Bright House systems, which has 2.4 million subscribers.
The Sinclair stations in the Bright House deal include WTTA-TV, a MyNetwork
affiliate in Tampa, Fla.; WEAR- and WFGX-TV, the ABC and MyNet in Mobile,
Ala./Pensacola, Fla.; NBC affiliate WTWC-TV in Tallahassee, Fla.; and WABM- and
WTTO-TV, the MyNet and CW in Birmingham, Ala..
Sinclair last week
it reached an “agreement in principle” with Time Warner for 28 TV stations. The
two have been negotiating in overtime since New Year’s Eve, when the previous
contract expired. That contract is now being left in place through Feb. 21
while the two hammer out a formal agreement.
In other retrans territory, a stalemate between DirecTV and Northwest
Broadcasting persists. The El Segundo, Calif., satellite TV provider issued a
statement on Friday saying “both sides seem to be spinning our wheels at the
moment.” Northwest, based in Okemos, Mich., pulled signals for five TV stations
in New York, Oregon, Washington and Texas from DirecTV Jan. 1. The fur has
flown ever since.
“Negotiating through the media and issuing press releases every day will not
get a deal done,” read the statement, attributed to DirecTV’s Dan Hartman,
senior vice president of programming acquisitions. “. . .
We ask Northwest to restore their channels
and to let an independent arbitrator resolve this matter.”
Hartman said DirecTV has hammered out retrans deals with seven broadcast groups
for 90 stations in 71 markets over the past two months.
Northwest Broadcasting’s CEO Brian Brady told the Southern Oregon Mail
Tribune that DirecTV was offering less for Northwest TV stations than
others around the country. The same article noted a hole in recently renewed
distant-signal rules that enabled DirecTV to provide a Los Angeles Fox affiliate to some subscribers in the KMVU-TV viewing area in
Retransmission negotiations have grown so strident and voluble over the last
year that the Federal Communications Commission has indicated its intention to
review its rules on the subject. FCC Media Bureau chief Bill Lake said in
December that a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on retransmission consent would be
issued during the first quarter of this year. It was not, however, listed on Jan.
25 agenda nor the tentative
agenda for the commission’s February open meeting. An FCC spokeswoman said no new information on the item was available.
--Deborah D. McAdams