What's next for Nexstar and Block?


The move by Fox to jerk its network affiliations in Evansville, IN and Boise, ID and move to new partners in those markets is reverberating through the TV industry. Nowhere is the question of continued Fox affiliations more top of mind than at Nexstar Broadcasting Group and Block Communications, each of which have other Fox stations besides those which just lost their affiliations.

Block, which also owns newspapers and cable TV systems, is in only four TV markets. But it has two other Fox affiliates besides KTRV-TV Boise, which is soon to be a former Fox affiliate. Block has a most unusual situation in Lima, OH, (DMA #185) where its WLIO-TV is an NBC primary affiliate, but as the only commercial station in the market also has Fox, ABC and CBS on digital multicast channels and LPTVs.

Block Communications Vice President of Broadcasting Bill Lamb told RBR-TVBR that the company does have a Fox contract in place for Lima, but he refused to comment on the status of WDRB-TV (Fox) Louisville, KY (DMA #48) which is the flagship for the TV group. Block also owns WMYO-TV, which carries MyNetworkTV programming in the Louisville market.

Normally accessible Nexstar CEO Perry Sook hasn’t responded to either an email or phone call from RBR-TVBR. In addition to WTVW-TV Evansville, which is losing its Fox affiliation, Nexstar owns or manages 14 other Fox stations in markets ranging from DMZ #74 Springfield, MO, to #171 Utica, NY. It’s believed Nexstar has been negotiation all of the affiliations with Fox as a single package. Just hours before the Evansville switch was announced by Fox, Sook had indicated in his quarterly Wall Street conference call that talks were ongoing, but that nothing had changed from the previous quarter.

RBR-TVBR observation: How ironic is it that Nexstar should be an early casualty of this network-affiliate battle? If not for Nexstar and Perry Sook taking cable operators to the mat in 2005 to extract cash retrans payments there might not be any pile of money today for Fox or any other network to share in. Don’t forget Perry, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

TV operators best CYA because this is just the beginning by the networks to get into your retran pocket. It is now time to think content development but more than ever to understand the make up of your local viewer the consumer and their information and entertainment needs. You can only achieve this with ‘Consumer Research’.