Sunday, October 09, 2005

TV Grudge Match Reignites

Source: Broadcasting and Cable For months, station owners have praised Nexstar Broadcasting for standing up to cable operators in the battle that is known in TV circles as retransmission consent.

Nexstar Broadcasting is insistent on forcing cable systems to pay cash to retransmit its local stations' signals. Since January, three Nexstar stations have been stripped from cable systems that refused to pay. Last week, as the kickoff of the latest season of retransmission-consent negotiations was about to commence, Nexstar COO Duane Lammers was preparing to issue similar demands on behalf of most of his remaining 46 stations.

Nexstar considers its move a noble cause, but few seem willing to follow the broadcaster to the mat and risk the ratings and advertising pain of cable operators' not carrying their signals.

Lammers says he doesn't expect a lot of company in the battle: “There's a lot of people out there ready to fight to the last drop of our blood.”

The Nexstar fight lingers on. The company's stations are still off cable systems in Abilene and Texarkana, Texas, and Joplin, Mo. Cox Communications Director of Programming Debbie Cullen says she hasn't met with Nexstar since February. Cable operators have handed out a few thousand rabbit-ear antennas and lost a few thousand subscribers that have jumped to DirecTV or EchoStar services, both of which pay cash for retransmission consent. (On DBS, broadcast stations come on an optional tier. If the FCC lets cable do that, cable operators would happily pay for retransmission consent—and give away a lot more pairs of rabbit ears.)

But Nexstar's audience has plunged; Nielsen Media's May book shows its stations are down 30%-40% in key dayparts. But the markets are small enough that it's not causing a financial crunch to Nexstar as a whole. Expanding the war will magnify the pain.

Although antitrust laws prevent companies from teaming up against systems, Lammers hopes other broadcasters in Nexstar markets will take up the fight, dramatically increasing the pain to cable. Says Lammers, “It's market-by-market.”

Read the full article
HERE.

18 Comments:

At 11:51 AM, October 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I certainly hope we don't lose Channel 4. I would have to "dump the cable" and get DirecTv.

 
At 3:46 PM, October 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does channel 4 bring to the
table that you can't get from
the other local stations ?
nothing...

 
At 6:41 PM, October 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay Leno

 
At 8:00 PM, October 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like channel 4's news and weather presentation better.

 
At 8:01 PM, October 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The olympics.

 
At 8:02 PM, October 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NFL beginning next year.

 
At 8:05 PM, October 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. The number one rated network newscast.

 
At 8:10 PM, October 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say drop cable. All of the cable companies in AR are over priced and have poor video quality... and we won't even get to the customer service, they won't get to you! Get a dish!

 
At 8:21 PM, October 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you just imagine the kind of ads Dish and DirecTV are going to have come January 1--"...See your favorite NBC shows without snow, sparklies, and pesky rabbit ears..."

Nexstar's move is going to hurt the elderly apartment viewers of channel 4 that have watched it for decades...They will be forced to switch to a dish provider, or find the wire for the long-forgotten roof-top antenna (that has since been corroded for two decades)..and thats the lucky ones in houses. Apartment viewers will be SOL. Look at cable subscribership to drop 10-15% over six months.

 
At 8:17 AM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd agree with the dish sentiments, except that - for young professionals and the like - DSL just doesn't cut it, and most would rather take an acceptable cable pkg with high speed combo than an acceptable Dish pkg with not-as-good internet from SBC.

Clearly, based on this and the whole AP/Nielsen thing, Nexstar wants to milk their stations dry before selling 'em off cheap.

 
At 9:55 AM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the cable companies can't come to an agreement with the local Nexstar station and they are pulled off cable at the broadcasters request, then the cable companies are free to import other network affiliates. For example, if KNWA or KARK is pulled off of cable, then an outside NBC affiliate can be piped in. You will still get Leno, NBC Nightly, etc. It will just be originating with a different station. I really see it as a lose-win: nexstar stations lose, cable companies win.

 
At 10:41 AM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's not true. According to the law, they still can't import a signal from another NBC affiliate. If they could, they would have done that in Texarkana and Joplin. Sorry, but you may lose your NBC programming if you don't switch to a dish.

 
At 2:00 PM, October 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have dish, but I have distant networks NY/LA sure the stories don't matter as much, but the quality can't be beat (signal, audio, and programming).

Plus I don't have weather break ins telling me how hard it is raining in Barling.

 
At 5:00 AM, October 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget the NHL and the Stanley Cup Playoffs

 
At 8:03 AM, October 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with you media folks is that it's always "The sky is falling!"

To the above poster about the law: you are incorrect. In NWA, there is a fed reg which allows (passed in the early 70's, I've done the research) that grandfathered in the Tulsa market and exempted it from any exclusion. NWA Cox cable could very easily import KJRH out of Tulsa and provide the Fort Smith/Fayetteville market with an NBC. Not sure about LR. The problem there is that the nearest NBC's are also owned by Nexstar.

 
At 8:06 AM, October 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And to add to that - it was only within the last couple of years that NWA Cox Cable stopped carrying the Tulsa CBS and ABC affiliates - this was strictly an agreement with the local stations as part of their retransmission contract. If Nexstar doesn't want to play nice, the Cox is free to import the NBC.

 
At 2:47 PM, October 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you stole your dish... you paid too much !

 
At 1:06 PM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ypu are not free to import signals from other markets. Otherwise, the cable companies would just bring in the networks from NY or LA. Heck they could even offer you both, so you could get an East Coast and West Coast feed.

There has to be more to this then jsut money. I'm sure Nexstar is also looking for provisions to carry multiple digital channels as well.

 

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