Verizon FiOS TV customers have lost five Tegna-owned local network affiliates in a carriage row with the broadcaster. This is the second major carriage dispute for Tegna which has been in a three-month long blackout with Dish. (Tegna is also involved in a 12-month fight with Mediacom.)
The stations affected in the Verizon fight are: WUSA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C., WPMT-TV, the Fox affiliate in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, WVEC-TV, the ABC affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia, WGRZ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Buffalo and WCCT-TV, the CW affiliate in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Tegna and Verizon have been negotiating for a new deal for weeks and even approved a temporary pact at one point. But that short-term extension expired last night and Tegna pulled its stations when it could not reach a new agreement with Verizon.
Verizon urged its affected customers to install TV antennas to continue watching their local channels. Without mentioning Dish or Mediacom, the telco TV provider also suggested Tegna is more likely to engage in carriage fights than other broadcasters.
“At Fios TV, we want our customers to see the best content on channels they love,” Verizon said in a post at its web site. “When content deals expire, we have to negotiate with content providers to be able to continue to carry their channels…We are trying our best to reach a reasonable deal with Tegna and hope Tegna will restore its channels to our lineup soon. We apologize that your service has been disrupted. This is not the first time that Tegna has removed their content from a TV provider. Tegna has a track record of removing their content when a TV provider refuses to accept their demands for unreasonable rate increases.”
Tegna’s statement said it offered Verizon another extension but was refused.
“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,” the broadcaster said. “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.”
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— Phillip Swann