Several independent owners of broadcast television stations affiliated with CBS pulled their signals from streaming service Fubo TV after complaining the network’s parent company, Paramount Global, was excluding them from conversations about retransmission fees and other matters.
The issue meant more than 160 local CBS affiliates owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, TEGNA, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Gray Television, E. W. Scripps Company and other media companies were removed from Fubo TV and replaced with a national feed of CBS that was provided by Paramount Global.
Around a dozen stations owned by Paramount Global weren’t affected by the move, and in an unusual twist, four affiliates owned by a third party are also still available on Fubo TV.
Those four stations — KHSL (Channel 12) in Chico, WTHI (Channel 10) in Terre Haute, WEVY (Channel 44) in Evansville and KIMT (Channel 3) in Mason — are owned by Allen Media Group, the media firm owned by businessman and comedian Byron Allen. A paperwork error is apparently to blame for the continued carriage of those four stations on Fubo TV.
In a statement published by Broadcasting & Cable, a spokesperson for Allen Media Group said it accidentally signed off on a proposal made by Paramount Global to keep its local stations on Fubo TV, and is now trying to retroactively kill the agreement.
“The arrangement that CBS has proposed is not appropriate,” the spokesperson said.
The attitude runs parallel to how the rest of the affiliate board of CBS feels: The station owners want greater negotiating power directly with Fubo TV and other virtual multi-video program distributors (vMVPD), presumably to negotiate higher carriage fees for their channels.
For several years, the CBS affiliates allowed the network to negotiate carriage on Fubo TV and other upstart streaming services on their behalf, in part because cable-like streaming services were still relatively new and niche. The strategy allowed station owners to concentrate their efforts on negotiating with cable and satellite companies, whose affiliate fee revenue has started to exceed traditional advertising.
As consumers move away from cable and satellite, they’re increasingly picking cheaper streaming options. While Fubo TV has steadily raised prices over the last few years, the service is still relatively cheaper than most cable or satellite packages; as cable and satellite companies continue to shed paying customers, streaming services like Fubo TV continue to grow.
For several months, officials at Paramount Global have proposed terms for the affiliate board that called for the company to continue negotiating carriage of their stations with vMVPDs like Fubo TV on their behalf. This time, the affiliate board balked, saying the terms offered by Paramount Global were untenable.
“Once Paramount reaches an agreement conferring unknown value on its own cable channels and other assets, it presents a take-it-or-leave-it’ offer to ‘opt in’ to a vMVPD distribution agreement with no changes,” the affiliate board complained, adding that it “remains adamantly opposed to Paramount’s insistence on controlling the retransmission rights of independently-owned local CBS affiliates on vMVPD platforms like Fubo.”