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Fox And DirecTV Reach New Carriage Agreement For Cable Networks As Well As Fox Broadcasting & Fox News Channel

Nellie Andreeva

Following marathon negotiations, and with only a few hours to spare before the midnight deadline tonight, Fox and DirecTV have reached a new carriage agreement. The deal covers not only all Fox Networks that were in danger of going dark on DirecTV systems tonight — FX, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Speed, Fuel TV, Fox Soccer, Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Deportes and Fox’s regional sports networks — but also Fox Broadcasting/the Fox local stations, whose deal with DirecTV was up at the end of the year, and Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, whose agreement was up at the end of January. “We both know the past ten days have been challenging, but we’re pleased that both sides could eventually come together to ensure our viewers continue to enjoy Fox programming,” the two sides said in a joint statement. No information on the financials of the deal was released. DirecTV previously claimed that Fox was seeking a 40% hike, something the other side dismissed as ridiculous. According to sources, Fox has landed a healthy double-digit license fee increases in the new deal, which was closed early because all executives involved have small children and had to go do trick-or-treating. The power of little kids in Halloween costumes …

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Sinclair, TWC Reach ‘Agreement In Principle’

Nellie Andreeva

Sinclair Broadcast Group and Time Warner Cable have reached an agreement in principle to end their carriage dispute. The new retransmission consent deal, whose details will be finalized over the next week, will prevent Sinclair’s 28 stations in mid-size markets  such as Pittsburgh and Milwaukee of going dark for 4 million subscribers in 21 markets. The two sides’ previous agreement expired on Dec. 31 but at the last minute, Sinclair and TWC agreed to a two-week extension. “We’re pleased to reach an agreement with Sinclair Broadcasting without any interruption in service for our customers,” said Rob Marcus, TWC’s president and  COO. There are smaller stations operators whose stations’ signal has been pulled as part of retransmission consent disputes: we are in Week 3 of Northwest Broadcasting’s blackout on DIRECTV in 3 markets and Frontier Radio Management’s blackout on DISH Network in Macon, GA.

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UPDATE: Last-Minute Extension Agreement Between Comcast & DISH Keeps E! & Style

Nellie Andreeva

Hours before DISH Network’s carriage agreement with Comcast’s E! and Style was to to expire at midnight, threatening a blackout of the two cable networks on DISH, the two sides have agreed to a short-term extension. The deal is “in hopes of reaching a long term solution,” E! and Style said in a statement.

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AT&T & Scripps Networks Reach Agreement

Nellie Andreeva

After a three-day blackout of Scripps Networks’ cable networks, including HGTV and Food Network, on AT&T U-Verse, the two sides tonight reached a new distribution agreement. The five Scripps channels affected, HGTV, Food Network, DIY, Cooking Channel and Great American Country have been restored in 2.7 million AT&T U-verse homes. Details of the agreement were not disclosed, though AT&T U-Verse SVP Brian Shay called it a “fair deal.”

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UPDATE: Cablevision-Fox War Of Words Intensifies As Political Pressure Mounts

Nellie Andreeva

Here is a brief recap of the events on Day 4 of the Fox blackout on Cablevision that has affected some 3 million  homes in the New York area.

All quiet on the actual negotiations front: “Fox and Cablevision held a short phone call today,” Fox said. “No material progress was made and we remain far apart. Both sides agreed to continue talking tomorrow.” But in the public space and in Washington, the spat created a storm, with more and more politicians weighing in. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) today sent FCC chairman Julius Genachowski a copy of legislation he is drafting, which would mandate that retrans disputes be taken to a third party arbitrator and would put enough safe guards to prevent network blackouts in such disputes. In turn, Genachowski today issued his most sternly-worded statement on the issue yet, in which he said he called the CEOs of the two companies and urged them to negotiate in good faith and reach a deal, though he stopped short of getting the FCC to intervene as some have asked. ”I am deeply troubled that Cablevision and Fox are spending more time attacking each other through ads and lobbyists than sitting down at the negotiating table,” Genachowski said. “The time for petty gamesmanship is over.” Read More »

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Latest Retrans Fight: Fox Cable vs Dish TV

UPDATE: Fox Networks and Dish Network are yet to start talks about restoring FX, National Geographic Channel and 19 regional sports networks on Dish systems. The cable networks were pulled at midnight after the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on a new carriage deal, with talks breaking off shortly before the midnight deadline. In the meanwhile, accusations are flying from both sides. “Fox is demanding a new contract with an unprecedented rate increase of more than 50 percent,” Dish said in a statement. “Fox has flatly refused DISH Network’s request to allow customers to continue to watch these Fox channels during the negotiations.” Fox is vigorously disputing both claims, calling the 50% figure “absurd” and stating that it was Dish that refused to keep the networks on while negotiations continue and it never asked for an extension of the two sides’ existing deal. “The proposal we’ve offered DISH is fair and in line with the tremendous value we provide,” Fox Networks said in a statement. With the carriage dispute on the cable side escalating, Fox and Dish have not even started discussing a new retransmission consent agreement for the Fox stations as the current one expires at the end of the month. Those talks will certainly include a demand for retransmission consent fees by Fox, something that put the company at odds with Time Warner Cable in December and threatened the network’s coverage of the college football championship games. Similarly, the end of Fox stations’ agreement with Dish will coincide with the network’s coverage of the World Series. Read More »

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Disney & TWC Reach Carriage Agreement

Nellie Andreeva

The deal came hours after the companies’ previous carriage agreement expired at midnight and days after the two sides announced they had made “significant progress.” The new pact includes carriage of Disney’s new Disney Jr. cable channel, which will replace SoapNet, and of Internet-based network ESPN3.com. Additionally, I hear the deal calls for retransmission consent fees for the 4 ABC O&O stations on TWC systems and fee increases for the existing Disney cable networks covered by the agreement. The new pact also includes expanded VOD services for TWC subscribers but they are not exclusive to the cable company. Here is the joint Disney/TWC release:

September 2, 2010 — BURBANK and NEW YORK— Disney/ABC Television Group, ESPN and Time Warner Cable today entered into a long-term, wide-ranging agreement that will provide Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks cable customers the programming of ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes and SOAPnet, as well as WABC in New York, KABC in Los Angeles, WTVD in Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville, WTVG in Toledo, and associated HD cable networks. Subscribers will also have unprecedented digital access to online content and expanded Video On Demand services.

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Web Is New Battleground In Carriage Fights

Nellie Andreeva

Roll Over Or Get Tough… I Have Choices… Fighting 4 You… All sound like campaign slogans. cable warsAnd they are, but not for a political race: they are slogans used by cable companies and networks in more and more public battles over carriage agreements. This trend of launching a website to rally public opinion intensified in December, about a week before Time Warner’s and Fox’s agreement was about to expire. TWC launched RollOverOrGetTough.com, followed immediately by Fox’s KeepFoxOn.com. After the two sides reached a new deal on New Year’s Day, TWC’s site went dormant until the company reactivated it earlier this week as part of preparation for the upcoming standoff with Disney over ABC, ESPN, and other cable networks. (Their current agreement expires on September 2nd.) Disney’s response was a new site, IHaveChoices.com, which went live today, urging viewers in TWC markets to switch providers ahead of the Sept. 2 deadline.

This is the earliest I’ve seen companies involved in carriage negotiations start campaigning, a possible indication that the battle will be tough. For now, the two sides are actively talking with no signs of impasse. But they have checkered past (anyone remembers the ABC blackout on TWC systems during May sweep in 2000?) and the issue of retransmission consent fees for broadcast stations’ signal is a thorny one. In fact, also this week, TWC, along with most leading cable and satellite providers, telcos and a couple of cable channels announced the … Read More »

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UPDATE: Rainbow And AT&T Ink New Deal, ‘Mad Men’ Season Saved On AT&T U-Verse

Nellie Andreeva

at&t u-verseAT&T and Rainbow Media just announced they have reached an new carriage agreement for Rainbow’s AMC, IFC and WEtv on AT&T U-verse 16 hours after their most recent extension expired and 10 days before the fourth season premiere of Mad Men on AMC. Here is AT&T’s statement:

We’re very satisfied that we were able to reach the fair deal we wanted for our customers — one that includes the right content, across platforms, at prices that are in line with the marketplace, and that helps us with important strategic content initiatives.

Rainbow Media’s statement might shed light on a key issue in the two sides’ negotiations as it mentions the company’s Sundance Channel as a fourth channel alongside AMC, IFC and WEtv that is covered by the new agreement.

We’re pleased to have reached an agreement with AT&T for AMC, WE tv, IFC and Sundance Channel that truly recognizes the value of our networks.

AT&T had complained that Rainbow “had been trying to force the renegotiation of a contract for one of their other channels that is not yet expired,” something that AT&T initially resisted.

PREVIOUS 9AM: The midnight deadline came and went, but Rainbow Media’s AMC, IFC and WEtv stayed on AT&T U-verse systems as the two sides continue to negotiate a new carriage agreement. The two companies also went in silent mode as they try to hammer a new deal for some 2.3 million U-verse subscribers. Meanwhile, one of those … Read More »

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Carriage Wars: Rainbow vs AT&T Down To Wire, ABC vs Time Warner Looming

Nellie Andreeva

at&t u-verseIf you are an AT&T U-Verse subscriber, you may lose AMC, IFC and WE tv programming at midnight tonight. Hours before the extension between Cablevision-owned Rainbow Media and AT&T is set to expire, the two sides still appear at impasse, issuing dueling statements.

“Our executives have been at AT&T U-Verse offices for several weeks, doing everything possible to reach an agreement that will keep AMC’s Mad Men, and other programming from AMC, WE tv and IFC available to their customers,” Rainbow Media said. “We have agreements with every other television provider in the country and have never had our networks dropped in more than 25 years.”

AT&T was more specific in addressing the sticking issue, a rates hike pursued by Rainbow Media, and repeatedly stressed that Rainbow is owned by AT&T competitor Cablevision. “We are making every effort to reach a fair agreement and continue providing these channels to our customers. It’s unfortunate that Rainbow Media, owned by Cablevision, is clearly not negotiating in good faith, is trying to charge significantly more than the average of what our TV competitors pay for these channels, and is acting in a way that harms competition and limits consumer choice,” AT&T said. The company added they’ve made “numerous proposals.” “However, Cablevision’s Rainbow Media has rejected each of them, instead making unreasonable proposals that give it an unfair competitive advantage,” AT&T said.

As part of its campaign, AT&T has launched a Web site, Fighting4you, an often-employed tool by … Read More »

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Carriage Dispute Threatens ‘Mad Men’ Debut

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Some 2.3 million subscribers in the country may lose AMC next week, just days before the Season 4 premiere of the network’s flagship drama Mad Men, which returns July 25. Broadband TV operator AT&T U-verse could drop Rainbow Media’s AMC, WE tv and IFC when the companies’ current carriage deal expires at midnight on July 14 unless a new agreement is reached. AT&T and Rainbow had been negotiating unsuccessfully for the past six months on a new contract to replace their previous one, which expired on July 1. The two sides agreed to a two-week extension but are now at an impasse. Rainbow has started notifying its viewers about the possibility of its 3 channels going dark on AT&T systems. “AT&T is acting in an aggressive manner that puts their corporate interests ahead of their customers,” AMC said in a statement. “We are negotiating in good faith with AT&T and are hopeful that we can reach an agreement as soon as possible so that our viewers don’t lose out.”

Meanwhile, AT&T argued that AMC’s demands are unreasonable. “Based on aggregate data we obtained from third party industry sources and our own subscribers, some of the Rainbow channels are among the least-watched and most overpriced per viewer compared to other major programming providers,” an AT&T spokeswoman said. “They’re also trying to force the renegotiation of a contract for one of their other channels that is not yet expired and force us to carry a new channel that wasn’t even formally presented … Read More »

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