News Corp. and Time Warner Cable finally struck a retransmission consent deal
in the afternoon of New Year's Day after a series of extensions and
negotiations that went through the night and past the Dec. 31 midnight
The pact prevents any disruption of service and will keep the Fox networks in
the 13 million homes the MSO serves. The deal also includes an additional two million homes
served by Bright House Networks.
Sen. John Kerry said the Hill would be doing some Monday morning quarterbacking
to see if any legislation was needed to avoid a repeat of the impasse. FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski said the pair had granted a New Year's resolution
to millions, while urging Sinclair and Mediacom to follow suit and finalize
their own retrans deal.
Terms of the Fox-TWC agreement were not disclosed, though the companies were at one point understood to be quite a bit apart, with News Corp.
seeking around $1 a subscriber for the Fox-owned broadcast stations, and TWC
reportedly countering with an offer in the 35 cent range.
The deal has benchmark implications for numerous retrans deals industrywide.
The agreement ends months of negotiations between the parties. News Corp. opted
not to pull the Fox networks from TWC once the clock struck midnight, so the
MSO's customers were able to see the college Bowl games that were in jeopardy
if a deal was not reached in time.
"We're pleased that, after months of negotiations, we were able to reach a
fair agreement with Time Warner Cable -- one that recognizes the value of our
programming," said Chase Carey, Deputy Chairman, President and COO, News
Corporation in a statement.
"We're happy to have reached a reasonable deal with no disruption in programming
for our customers," said Glenn Britt, Chairman, President and CEO, Time Warner
Cable in a statement."
Kerry, who pushed the two sides to extend carriage while they negotiated and
pushed the FCC to intervene if they didn't, praised the pact. "I applaud the
parties for putting consumer interests first by reaching a new carriage
contract, and for staying at the table until a deal was cut," Kerry said.
He indicated his office had been in contact with the parties during the
negotiation. "I also appreciate their communications with my office
throughout the process," he said. "My sole objective is to ensure
that the rules and regulations governing the media marketplace protect
But while Kerry sounded relieved that the threat of pulled signals interrupting
football games was over, he also suggested that he would be assessing the
retrans process to decide whether Congress needs to step in to avoid a repeat
performance. "I will reach out to both parties, the FCC, and consumer
advocates to assess lessons learned from this dispute," he said, "and
what, if any, changes to law are necessary. I again extend my appreciation for
a positive outcome to the parties and the efforts that the FCC exerted to bring
Genachowski, who publicly urged Fox and Time Warner to agree to an extension
also took time off from his New Year's Day festivities to praise the deal.
"Fox and Time Warner have granted a New Year's resolution of millions of
viewers, and I congratulate them."
He also used the opportunity to encourage Mediacom and Sinclair to settle their
dispute before the Jan. 8 expiration date on their extension of carriage.
"Now it is the turn of Sinclair and Mediacom to respect the wishes of
their audience, and resolve their differences. The governing statute
contemplates that retransmission terms should be and will be resolved by
agreement between private companies, and broadcast and cable companies must
accept shared responsibility for any failure to reach a timely deal," he
Genachowski indicated the FCC, too, had something to do with getting the deal
done, as well as getting Sinclair and Mediacom to keep the signals on. "I
commend the FCC's Media Bureau for its yeoman, pragmatic, and consumer-focused
work in encouraging yesterday's extension of the Sinclair/Mediacom
retransmission agreement as well as today's Fox/Time Warner agreement," he