NewsNation, the new home of disgraced CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, could be dropped from millions of homes by the end of this week if its parent company Nexstar cannot reach an agreement with cable provider Verizon Fios.
In a message delivered to customers of its Fios TV service, Verizon stated that its “contract with Nexstar ends on October 14, 2022 and your Fios TV package contains Nexstar channels,” adding that it is currently “working hard to negotiate with them to reach a new agreement.”
According to Verizon, however, Nexstar—the largest television station owner in the United States—“has proposed charging over 64% more for its programming.” The telecommunications giant further noted that it “remains committed to making these channels available to our customers, but simply cannot agree to such unreasonable increases.”
Aside from fledgling cable outlet NewsNation, Nexstar is the majority owner of The CW and controls nearly 200 local US television stations. Fios, meanwhile, has about three million subscribers along the east coast. If the two sides don’t reach an agreement, NewsNation and 15 Nexstar-owned stations in markets including Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and New York would be impacted.
“Nexstar is simply seeking fair market rates for the live sports, local news, and high-quality entertainment programming we provide to millions of viewers across the country,” Nexstar spokesperson Gary Weitman said in a statement. “ We have a long track record of negotiating fairly and avoiding service interruptions in our markets and we hope to reach agreement with Verizon FiOS. We don’t want the viewers in our local markets to miss any of this weekend’s college or NFL football games, or any of the other valuable programming we provide.”
A Verizon spokesperson, however, said the media conglomerate “has proposed an immediate and unacceptable rate increase” to carry its channels, claiming it was part of a longstanding pattern of behavior.
“For nearly two decades, broadcasters like Nexstar have been charging cable and satellite providers—and their customers—unreasonably high fees to access local stations,” the spokesperson said. “Broadcasters often remove their channels from consumers until TV providers agree to pay more—even though the same channels are available for free over the air.”
The statement continued: “We have been working for some time to come to fair terms with Nexstar and will continue to work diligently to reach a fair agreement on behalf of our customers as we will not stand for this. If Nexstar does not agree to fair terms by October 14, 2022, their stations may temporarily be removed from Fios.”
Carriage fee disputes between broadcasters and providers are nothing new, and Nexstar has been down this road before. In the summer of 2019, for instance, the company found 120 of its stations blacked out in 97 markets for two months over a contract dispute with AT&T, resulting in the channels disappearing from AT&T’s DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV systems.
This ongoing battle with Fios comes at perhaps an inopportune time for Nexstar-owned NewsNation, as Cuomo—who was fired by CNN for advising his ex-governor brother on his sexual-misconduct scandal—launched his much-hyped primetime show just last week. NewsNation has struggled to gain traction with viewers since launching in early 2021 as a cable news network. While Cuomo’s show quickly became NewsNation’s top-drawing primetime offering in its first week, it still trailed far behind other cable-news networks.
Fios, meanwhile, recently rid itself of far-right conspiratorial channel One America News, removing the channel from its lineup in late July. The provider dropping OAN came after the network had already lost its biggest source of revenue when DirecTV dropped the pro-Trump channel, leaving it with almost no television providers.
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