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Nexstar stations pulled from Verizon Fios over fees

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 pulled its local television stations from around a dozen Verizon Fios systems on Saturday over a dispute on fees associated with carriage.

Last week, Verizon warned that its Fios television service might be forced to pull the stations after Nexstar requested a 64 percent increase in fees for the right to provide the local stations to Verizon Fios customers.

Nexstar did not dispute the fee increase. Instead, on Saturday, the company blamed Verizon for the blackout, saying the company had “deprived” subscribers of Nexstar’s channels.

“Nexstar remains hopeful that a resolution can be reached quickly to return to viewers their favorite network programming, NFL football, in-depth local news and other local content relevant to their communities, and critical emergency updates for which Verizon Fios is charging its subscribers,” a Nexstar spokesperson said.

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Verizon primarily offers its Fios TV and Internet service in the northeastern part of the country. The dispute involves the national cable news channel NewsNation as well as Nexstar-owned local stations in the following areas:

  • 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 are also unavailable, 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.

The dispute will mean some Verizon Fios customers will lose access to National Football League telecasts on local CBS and Fox stations, as well as other sports carried on ABC and NBC in parts of upstate New York and Virginia.

Verizon Fios customers have a number of streaming television alternatives to get those stations, including Sling TV ($35 a month), Vidgo ($60 a month) and YouTube TV ($65 a month), though exact local channel availability will depend on location and provider. Many local stations can also be received for free with a simple over-the-air antenna.

Nexstar says it has a “long track record” of resolving disputes with pay television companies. The company’s last major carriage dispute was with Dish Network, the satellite and streaming company that is notorious for dropping channels when programmers request higher fees. In that instance, Dish Network was forced to pull around 160 local broadcast stations from its platforms.

At the time, a Dish Network executive accused Nexstar of demanding over $1 billion in fees in exchange for the right to carry its programming, with an executive noting many of Nexstar’s channels were available to customers for free with a simple antenna.

The dispute between Dish Network and Nexstar lasted for over two weeks before the channels were finally restored.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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