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Verizon's CBS deal does double duty as a dig at TWC

Thu, 08/22/2013 - 12:55pm
Brian Santo

Verizon’s announcement that it negotiated a retransmission consent agreement with CBS Corp. to distribute CBS on its FiOS network was a masterwork of veiled digs at Time Warner Cable, which is engaged in an epic battle of wills with the broadcaster over retrans fees.

Verizon said its new agreement with CBS covers not only continued retransmission of CBS owned stations but also wider distribution of CBS Sports Network on Verizon's FIOS TV in multiple markets across the country.

Ray Hopkins, president, television networks distribution at CBS provided a statement that implies the fees CBS is charging are fair. "This deal was reached in a short period of time, and CBS has once again achieved fair value for our over-the-air rights.”

The particulars of retrans agreements are never divulged, so it remains impossible for anyone not party to any retrans contract to evaluate whether the fees are fair or not, or if the fees demanded are the same from one distributor to the next. Of course, terms of the Verizon / CBS agreement were not disclosed.  

"We've reached this agreement in partnership with CBS for our customers, so that they may continue to enjoy CBS content on FiOS," said Terry Denson, Verizon’s vice president of video content and strategy.

Such statements are so bland they rarely even make it to boilerplate status, but in context, it’s a thumb in the eye of a competitor whose customers are not at the moment enjoying CBS content.  

Meanwhile, TWC and CBS have agreed to temporarily lift their blackout in order to televise the New York City mayoral election debates hosted on CBS.

As part of the Verizon-CBS agreement, CBS owned stations in various Verizon markets including New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, will continue to be distributed to FiOS TV subscribers. This includes all of the approximately 3.5 million subscribers served in markets where CBS owns television stations. (FiOS has approximately 5 million subscribers in total.) FiOS TV will also continue to provide - free to the viewer - CBS programming via Verizon's industry-leading video on demand services to all subscribers. In addition, the CBS Sports Network will dramatically increase its distribution with FiOS. Separately, CBS and Verizon have an existing agreement for FiOS to carry Showtime Networks and Smithsonian that will continue in the years to come as well.

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