January 25, 2019 — Some network channels remain dark for more than 50,000 TDS Telecom (TDS®) customers in eight states. Nexstar Media Group who operates 174 stations reaching 38% 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 sat down to answer customer questions in his third video message to customers since negotiations with Nexstar failed on Dec. 31, 2018.
“If we don’t stand up for what’s right, things won’t change. So we’re staying the course—most of you have supported us in this fight—which means we will keep fighting,” states Butman in the video.
According to Butman, one of Nexstar’s more egregious demands is for TDS to continue to pay Nexstar as if it were broadcasting popular network programming such as NFL football games or shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, even if Nexstar loses its network affiliation and instead starts carrying less desirable programming. In essence, Nexstar is demanding that TDS’s customers bear Nexstar’s business risks.
“This is an example of a large broadcaster trying to force a small operator to accept unjustified terms. We appeal to Nexstar to come to the table with a reasonable offer and end this standoff,” adds Butman.
At the heart of this dispute is a rapidly changing TV industry, with broadcast stations such as Nexstar losing viewers to streaming services, often with higher quality programing. Recently the President of the American Cable Association issued an op-ed statement explaining the forces at work and supporting TDS and another cable provider for standing up to Nexstar and enduring extended channel blackouts.
On day 25 with no end in sight, TDS is providing customers with alternatives to watch Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3. There are many choices when it comes to viewing premium content, including: online streaming services, next day on-demand options, over-the- air antennas or mobile apps, all of which can make the blackout less severe.