Verizon, CBS Sign Retrans Deal

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Telco Verizon and CBS have struck a retransmission-consent deal that includes analog TV-station carriage, digital multicast channels, HDTV, and VOD, both network and local VOD content, primarily news.

Getting VOD play on the telco's FiOS video system will be CSI, Survivor and NCIS, among other shows.

The VOD will be available for no extra cost above FiOS service. Verizon had already been carrying the CBS stations per a "special" agreement. When Verizon launched its video service, it made a deal with CBS to carry its stations in the markets where it was launching.

Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS, had told analysts in late February to look for a big retransmission-consent deal in the near future. This appears to have been it.
No word on what Verizon had to pay, but Moonves said last month he was looking at a potential pool of hundreds of millions of dollars from all the retrans deals. He also said that the stations would also eventually be getting a cut of the new cash-and-carry regime
Ever since CBS split off from Viacom at the beginning of the year, CBS has been looking to monetize its TV stations in new carriage deals, rather than having the price for carriage be carrying a Viacom cable channel or two, as had been the case with previous deals. Cable is required by law to carry a broadcast station, but does not have to pay if the broadcaster opts for that mandatory carriage--"must carry." But the station can opt instead to negotiate carriage for a fee, as CBS did. But the operator is then under no obligation to carry the station if a deal can't be struck.

Verizon says it is the telco's biggest TV station carriage deal to date in terms of number of stations. Verizon already has a carriage deal with NBC and ABC stations.

Verizon has been aggressively seeking franchises for its video service, now available in some part of seven states according to the company.
It has been equally aggressive in trying to get help from local governments, Congress and the FCC, seeking franchise regulation reform that would allow it to streamline or bypass the time-consuming franchise negotiations that cable built its service on. It has succeeded in several states, Texas and Virginia among them--to greater and lesser degree.

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