TDS and Nexstar continue negotiations, remain at impasse
Local viewers getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of a fair resolution, as is TDS.
Local provider TDS Telecom (TDS®) and media conglomerate Nexstar Media Group (Nexstar) remain in conflict on critical retransmission agreements. The two companies are at an impasse in negotiations which impact more than 50,000 TDS customers in eight states. Nexstar who operates 174 stations and reaches 38 percent of all U.S. households is preventing TDS from broadcasting channels such as ABC, CBS and FOX in select markets.
TDS President and CEO Jim Butman, issued a second video message to TDS customers explaining the situation stating that negotiations during the blackout, now in day 16, are not going well and customers will be issued refunds for lost programming.
According to TDS, the company has been working on behalf of customers to seek a fair resolution with Nexstar. Although TDS has made multiple offers, Nexstar continues to insist on retransmission rate increases TDS classifies as “too expensive and unreasonable to ask our customers to absorb.”
In addition, TDS is unwilling to agree to additional terms which would allow Nexstar to shift its business risk associated with a potential loss of major network affiliations onto TDS.
“Nexstar is looking to preserve a revenue stream by forcing carriage of local, unspecified programming as a replacement should Nexstar lose their national affiliation agreements. TDS cannot agree to terms forcing additional rate increases on customers for less valuable programming content just to secure Nexstar’s profits,” says Shane West, SVP of Marketing, Sales and Customer Operations.
TDS reports it has agreed to multiple concessions and also provided several other offers which have all been rebuffed by Nexstar. Here are a few examples:
- TDS asked Nexstar to keep the channels on during its negotiations, and they refused.
- TDS offered a retroactive true-up on rates once an agreement is reached, so Nexstar had nothing to lose by letting TDS broadcast the channels during negotiations.
- TDS offered to place Nexstar’s channels on a separate, optional tier with 100 percent of the payments going to Nexstar. Again, Nexstar refused.
- TDS also offered Nexstar binding arbitration to allow a non-biased third party to step in and offer a fair resolution to the dispute. They refused this offer as well.
“Our customers suffer today because Nexstar refused all of these offers,” says West. “TDS cannot legally broadcast the impacted channels without signed agreements.”
In the meantime, the company is providing information to customers about alternative methods to view programming through online streaming and mobile apps, in addition to using an antenna to view ABC, CBS, and FOX for free, where over-the-air signals are strong enough to reach.
West adds, “TDS’ video service carries Nexstar’s stations into many homes and businesses Nexstar cannot reach with its own signal, allowing our customers more access to local programming and weather alerts. Since Nexstar will not allow TDS to bring these stations into our communities, Nexstar is harming them. TDS stands ready to bring stations up as soon as Nexstar lets us.”
Additionally, it appears in Alamogordo, N.M., Nexstar removed over-the-air access of station KRQE due to a transmitter issue. “We first learned of this on their website after a technician reported all over-the-air channels were unreachable, even with an antenna. We’ve asked Nexstar to confirm the status of the station being off-air, but they have not responded to our repeated requests. While we do not believe this issue is related to the retransmission consent negotiations with TDS, we do believe it demonstrates an overall disregard for the community,” adds West.