WJAR in fee dispute with Verizon Fios

WJAR has launched a campaign encouraging Fios subscribers to petition their cable company to reach a “fair, market-based deal” with the channel.
Posted 12/28/11

PROVIDENCE – You may have been contentedly watching the Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers game on Sunday, only to see a crawl cross the screen asking viewers to encourage Verizon Fios to not “drop” WJAR-TV NBC 10.

WJAR has launched a campaign encouraging Fios subscribers to petition their cable company to reach a “fair, market-based deal” with the channel.

If a deal is not reached by midnight on Dec. 31, Fios subscribers will lose their WJAR access in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts; hence, the channel’s “Don’t Drop WJAR” campaign. (Viewers could buy a basic over-the-air digital antenna to continue receiving WJAR.)

WJAR said that Verizon Fios pays to package and resell broadcast stations, with fees ranging from $1.00 per subscriber per month for TNT and the Disney Channel up to $4.40 per subscriber per month for ESPN.

Negotiations began a “couple of months” ago, the company said, although WJAR Vice President and General Manager Vic Vetters was not available this week to give further comment.

“Verizon Fios is already charging you to receive WJAR as part of your monthly cable bill. Verizon Fios could simply re-allocate the money its subscribers already pay among the channels that the public really wants to watch,” WJAR said on its website.

“We simply require that Verizon Fios pay a fair market price for our content, just as its competitors do,” it added.

Verizon also sent PBN an emailed statement, saying:

“We're working hard to expedite closure of the negotiations in order to eliminate any temporary interruption of service to our customers when our current contract expires on December 31st.”

“Verizon continues to negotiate with Media General Broadcasting to reach an agreement on contract terms that are reasonable and in our subscribers’ best interest, so that our customers can continue to receive the best possible television service and content they have come to expect.”

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