Verizon, Cox Media reach carriage deal, avoiding blackout

Verizon and Cox Media Group (CMG) have reached a new retransmission consent agreement, avoiding a station blackout on Fios systems.

CMG and Verizon’s earlier deal was set to expire on December 15.

“This deal with Verizon, consistent with our long history of carriage agreements, reflects the value of our market-leading stations and commitment to delivering vital and award-winning news and entertainment programming,” CMG said in a statement. “We’re pleased to have reached this renewal before our prior deal expired, exemplifying our commitment to reaching timely and fair-market agreements with partners that negotiate in good faith.” 

Verizon earlier this week began warning that Cox stations in certain markets could get pulled if the companies weren’t able to come to terms, impacting nearly 340,000 Fios customers. Verizon had asserted that Cox was asking for “unreasonable rate increases” to carry stations in Boston, Rhode Island and Pittsburgh on Fios TV.

“Verizon and Cox Media Group reached a settlement last night. We’re pleased to continue offering Cox stations on Fios channels,” Verizon said in a statement provided to Fierce.

With a long-term agreement in place, Verizon will continue to carry local news, entertainment and sports from CMG. Verizon had said stations at risk included WFXT Fox in Boston and Rhode Island, WPXI NBC in Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Cable News Channel.

As agreements come up for renewal, disputes and channel blackouts have cropped up across various providers and station owners in recent months.

In October, more than 3 million Verizon customers across 10 markets lost access to Nexstar-owned stations for two weeks amid a retrans dispute, before the two companies were able to reach a multi-year deal.

CMG has a separate retrans dispute ongoing with Dish, which saw stations pulled from the satellite pay TV provider’s systems in nine markets at the end of November.

Comcast, meanwhile, this week wrote to the FCC, accusing Nexstar and Mission Broadcasting of failing to negotiate in good faith and asking the regulator to take action. Nexstar this week had started warning viewers that around 90 stations could go dark on Comcast systems at the end of the month.   

DirecTV is another TV provider that’s had to drop stations this fall, including from Mission and White Knight Broadcasting.

DirecTV, like other providers, asserted that broadcasters often suspend access temporarily in an effort to negotiate higher rates. Meanwhile station owners tend to claim they’re seeking fair market terms.