Nexstar says Verizon is lying about Fios carriage dispute

A still frame from a broadcast of "Cuomo" on Nexstar's NewsNation.
A still frame from a broadcast of “Cuomo” on Nexstar’s NewsNation. (Image via NewsNation broadcast, Graphic by The Desk)

Nexstar Media Group is accusing Verizon of misleading its Fios customers about an ongoing carriage dispute that has left customers without access to about a dozen local channels.

On Monday, Nexstar published a statement across its local news websites saying the dispute was triggered after Verizon refused its “proposal for fair value compensation” in exchange for the right to carry the local broadcast stations and the upstart cable news channel NewsNation.

“Verizon Fios has refused our fair offer, and is making negotiations very difficult,” a Nexstar spokesperson said in a statement to viewers. “You may have seen them do this before. They will tell you it’s for your benefit, but don’t believe it. Our offer is fair.”

In a competing statement, a Verizon spokesperson told customers that Nexstar’s offer is anything but fair, accusing the broadcaster of withholding the channels unless Verizon agrees to a 64 percent increase in carriage fees. Those fees ultimately trickle down to customers in the form of higher bills.

“Verizon remains committed to making these channels available to our customers, but simply cannot agree to such unreasonable increase,” a Verizon spokesperson said.

Verizon primarily offers its Fios TV and Internet service in the northeastern part of the country. The following channels have been unavailable to Verizon Fios customers since the dispute with Nexstar began last Friday:

  • WPIX (Channel 11, CW) in New York metro area
  • WSYR (Channel 9, ABC) in Syracuse
  • WTEN (Channel 10, ABC) in Albany
  • WPRI (Channel 12, CBS) in Providence, RI
  • WIVB Channel 4, CBS) in Buffalo
  • WPHL (Channel 17) in Philadelphia
  • WDCW (Channel 50, CW) in Washington, D.C.
  • WHTM (Channel 10, ABC) in Harrisburg
  • WRIC (Channel 8, ABC) in Richmond, VA
  • WAVY (Channel 10, NBC) in Norfolk
  • WVBT (Channel 5, Fox) in Norfolk

In areas where Verizon Fios carries digital sub-channels of the above local stations, those digital channels will also be pulled, the company affirmed. The move will mean customers in some markets will lose access to Antenna TV, Comet, Court TV, Grit, Bounce TV and Cozi TV, though only if the networks are carried by a Nexstar-owned station.

Most Verizon Fios customers can receive the missing Nexstar stations for free by attaching a basic antenna to the back of their TV set. Customers who can’t receive their local stations with an antenna have several streaming options to get them, including Sling TV ($35 a month), Vidgo ($60 a month) and YouTube TV ($65 a month). Some of those services offer a free trial.

It isn’t clear how much longer the carriage dispute between Verizon Fios and Nexstar will last. Nexstar claims it has a “long track record of resolving disputes with pay television companies.” The last major dispute involving Nexstar saw over 160 local channels dropped from Dish Network for two weeks.