Sinclair announces end of Buckeye Cable negotiations; NBC issue still unresolvedWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s Note: Updated with additional comments from Sinclair Executive Vice President Barry Faber.
NBC will be off the air for local Buckeye CableSystem subscribers “for the foreseeable future” after negotiations between Buckeye and Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns local NBC affiliate WNWO, ended without reaching an agreement, Sinclair announced Feb. 19.
“Although we very much wanted to reach agreement with Buckeye, Buckeye was not willing to agree to what we believe, based on our negotiation of hundreds of similar agreements impacting numerous markets, including Toledo, to be fair and customary terms,” Sinclair’s executive vice president and chief negotiator Barry Faber said in a news release. “We apologize to Buckeye’s subscribers for the inconvenience this has caused.”
The release stated that “retransmission consent negotiations with Buckeye Cable … have ended without the parties reaching an agreement. As a result, the failure of Buckeye to carry WNWO will continue for the foreseeable future.”
Buckeye did not return a call seeking confirmation.
“Based on the most recent communication from Buckeye it appears to us that Buckeye has no serious interest in continuing to negotiate,” Faber said in an email to Toledo Free Press. “As a result, we are not prepared to spend additional time that would clearly not lead to an agreement. We issued the press release because we felt it was important for the public to be aware that Buckeye is not likely to resume carriage of WNWO at any time in the foreseeable future.”
NBC has not been aired on Buckeye Cable since December. The dispute stems from a disagreement over the price for programming asked by Sinclair for WNWO. Buckeye deemed the price too high, resulting in a loss of programming. The failure of the two companies to come to an agreement have affected viewing of the Winter Olympics as well as other sporting events and TV shows.
During a Feb. 3 town hall meeting in Toledo hosted by WNWO, Faber said he is confident his company’s asking price is fair.
“We provide service to over 150 stations. We do negotiations like this all over the country. Except for one negotiation years ago, we’ve never had this problem. It just doesn’t happen,” Faber said. “We understand our market, and our prices aren’t too high.”
However, Faber declined to discuss specifics of the negotiations, including what he felt was a fair price. According to statistics provided by the company at the meeting, the estimated fees per subscriber per month on Buckeye Cable are $0.24 for WNWO, compared to $5.33 for ESPN, $1.10 for Nickelodeon and $3.45 for Fox Sports Detroit.
Buckeye has been refunding the $0.24 per month to its customers for the loss of the station, according to the release.
Sinclair has suggested on numerous occasions that Buckeye customers who aren’t satisfied with the loss of programming switch to another provider.