UPDATE (02/01/2019) — TDS Telecom, Ben Broadband’s parent company, announced late Friday they have reached an agreement to carry stations owned by Nexstar Media Group. The deal allows for retransmission of local stations to more than 50,000 customers in eight states, including KOIN in Jefferson and Crook counties, after a month-long blackout.
In a statement, TDS President Jim Butman thanked customers for their patience and cooperation, “Because of their support we were able to come to a reasonable agreement with Nexstar.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
BEND, OR (01/31/2019) -- Bend Broadband’s parent company, TDS Telecom, is in a contract dispute with the owner of Portland CBS station KOIN-TV and Super Bowl fans are caught in the middle. "CBS is broadcasting the Super Bowl this year, and obviously we don’t want our customers to miss out on this big game," says TDS Telecom's Cheryl McCollum, "But, unfortunately, we are still in negotiations and it appears it will not be resolved by the time the Super Bowl is this weekend."
McCollum tells KBND News, "The sticking point is rates – what Nexstar Media Group is asking us to pay to broadcast that station. Some of our negotiations with them are up to 112% higher than it was a year ago. It’s generally not the first year that the contract is that expensive. It’s what happens in years two and three that we have our concerns with." She says that would equate to a few dollars extra per month, on each customer’s cable bill in Jefferson and Crook counties. While McCollum admits it's not a lot, it adds up over time.
Nexstar Media appealed directly to viewers earlier this month, issuing a statement that claimed, in part, "It appears that TDS is using Nexstar’s pending acquisition of Tribune Media Company, to try to pressure Nexstar to accepting an unreasonable offer. To accept an unreasonable offer would compromise Nexstar’s ability to provide more great local content to you, our loyal viewers. Nexstar’s local news and operating staff are proud local residents, and they aim to provide you with the best local content. Nexstar does not publicly comment on negotiations, regardless of how active they may be, but the fees TDS is claiming that Nexstar is asking for is quite an embellishment."
The dispute forced Bend Broadband to black-out KOIN on January first. McCollum says federal rules prohibit the cable company from providing a different CBS station, "The FCC determines the DMA, the Designated Market Areas. And Madras and Prineville and Culver, and some of those communities are out of the Portland DMA, so we can only broadcast that station in that DMA." The Bend television market encompasses Deschutes County, where cable subscribers receive TDS-owned KBNZ-CBS and therefore aren't impacted by the blackout.
"We still are hoping to get this resolved, but at this point," McCollum says, "It doesn’t appear that it’s going to happen before this weekend." But, she says customers in Madras, Crooked River Ranch, Culver, Metolius and Prineville who aren't able to tune in to CBS can still watch the Super Bowl. McCollum says it will be live streamed and available for free on the CBS Sports app, NFL mobile app, Yahoo Sports app, online at CBSSports.com, or via streaming devices like Apple TV, Google Chromecast or Roku. Click HERE for more on how to watch the big game.