LIN in retrans battles


LIN Television says it has reached an impasse in retransmission negotiations with Cable One and expects the MSO to stop carrying KASA-TV (Ch. 2, Fox) Albuquerque in New Mexico come tomorrow (12/15), when the current retrans agreement expires. LIN has also filed an FCC complaint against Atlantic Broadband for continuing to carry WIVB-TV (Ch. 4, CBS) Buffalo on systems in New York and Pennsylvania even though it has no retrans agreement with LIN. Since the complaint was filed this week, LIN told TVBR that Atlantic Broadband has removed WIVB from its systems in the Erie, PA DMA, where there is another CBS affiliate as well, but that the station remains on without LIN’s consent in the Buffalo DMA.

LIN has duopolies in both markets, but the current disputes involve only one station in each situation. WNLO-TV (Ch. 23, CW) Buffalo is carried by Atlantic Broadband as a must-carry signal. The situation in Albuquerque is quite strange. LIN’s retransmission consent contracts have different expiration dates since it acquired KRQE-TV (Ch. 13, CBS) from Emmis in 2006 and KASA from Raycom in 2007. LIN successfully completed a new retransmission consent agreement with Cable One for KRQE, but is now at an impasse regarding KASA.

“We only want what is fair for our local Fox station. Cable One continues to pay money to niche cable programmers, with substantially less viewing,” complained LIN Exec. VP of Digital Media Gregory Schmidt.
Neither of the cable companies in the retrans standoffs with LIN is the major cable provider in the DMA in question. Atlantic Broadband is said to have about 14,000 subscribers in the Buffalo and Erie DMAs. In New Mexico, Cable One serves the communities of Rio Rancho (a northern suburb of Albuquerque) and Roswell/Chaves County.

TVBR observation: In the course of 2007 various TV group owners began to report substantial retransmission consent revenues in their quarterly conference calls. This has become an important new revenue stream – and one worth fighting for. Most MSOs seem to have accepted the fact that they now have to pay for the major broadcast networks (and the valuable news product of their local affiliates), but there will no doubt continue to be occasional retrans battles.