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Hearst channels may be pulled from Verizon Fios

Verizon is warning some of its pay TV customers that they may lose one or more local channels owned by Hearst Television at the start of the year.

As is typical with warnings like these, the issue stems from the forthcoming expiration of a contractual agreement between Hearst and Verizon over fees paid for the right to bring local channels to Verizon’s Fios TV customers.

Customers in five metropolitan television markets could be affected by the dispute if Verizon and Hearst don’t reach a new agreement before January 1, 2021 or extend their current agreement while negotiations continue.

The stations affected by the contract are as follows:

  • WTAE (Channel 4, ABC) in Pittsburgh
  • WTAE-DT2 (Channel 4.2, Cozi TV) in Pittsburgh
  • WBAL (Channel 11, NBC) in Baltimore
  • WBAL-DT2 (Channel 11.2, MeTV) in Baltimore
  • WGAL (Channel 8, NBC) in  Harrisburg, PA
  • WGAL-DT2 (Channel 8.2, MeTV) in Harrisburg, PA
  • WMUR (Channel 9, ABC) in Manchester, NH
  • WCVB (Channel 5, ABC) in Boston
  • WCVB-DT2 (Channel 5.2, MeTV) in Boston

Hearst stations were not running notices for Verizon Fios TV customers on their local station websites as of Tuesday evening.

Verizon, on the other hand, has gone on the offense, charging Hearst with threatening to remove local channels “while millions of Americans are struggling” and during the ongoing COVID-19 health pandemic when many are turning to local news for information.

“We negotiate hundreds of these agreements each year and, while we are able to reach mutually agreeable terms with the majority of our programming partners prior to any service disruptions, sometimes broadcasters and cable networks demand unacceptable price increases,” a Verizon Fios spokesperson said, adding that any increase in fees for Verizon would eventually be passed on to customers in the form of higher bills.


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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is an award-winning journalist with more than 10 years of experience covering the business of television and radio broadcasting, streaming services and the overall media industry. In addition to his work as publisher of The Desk, Matthew contributes regularly to StreamTV Insider and KnowTechie, and has worked for several well-known news organizations, including Thomson Reuters, McNaughton Newspapers, Grasswire, Comstock's magazine, KTXL-TV and KGO-TV. Matthew is a member of IRE, a trade organization for investigative reporters and editors, and is based in Northern California.

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