With all the football I watched over the holidays, there wasn’t time for channel surfing. I didn’t notice until this week that despite the hefty sum I pay Frontier Communications, I no longer get KOMO TV as part of my FiOS television package.
Nope. These days when I click on Channel 4, this message pops up: “We regret to inform you the broadcaster of this channel is unwilling to negotiate a new deal with fair rates. As a result, this channel has been removed from your lineup at this time.”
Not only is FiOS my source of TV at home, The Daily Herald has a Frontier hookup. For now, there will be no watching KOMO News or ABC on our newsroom TV.
I don’t watch “The Bachelor,” but that’s not the point. Shouldn’t all local affiliates of major commercial broadcast networks — particularly the traditional big three, ABC, CBS and NBC — be the minimum of what cable providers offer? I think so.
And if Frontier Communications offers less, shouldn’t monthly bills be reduced? I think so.
That’s not the way the business works, said Javier Mendoza, director of communications for Frontier Communications. Mendoza confirmed Tuesday that Frontier’s agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. has expired. Sinclair owns Seattle-based KOMO TV, the local ABC affiliate.
“FiOS occasionally changes its channel offerings. That’s covered in our customer service agreement,” Mendoza said. “Such programming package changes are part of normal business and no discounts are available.”
Maintaining that “some of these broadcasters are demanding unreasonable rates,” Mendoza said Frontier “worked hard to negotiate a reasonable rate, but we won’t settle for less than fair pricing for our customers.” He didn’t share how many Frontier TV customers there are in Snohomish County or Washington.
Mendoza said Frontier offers hundreds of programming options. That’s no comfort to fans of “Dancing with the Stars,” “Good Morning America,” Steve Pool’s weather forecasts, “Jeopardy!” or “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Everett’s Kathy and Tim Koss switched from Comcast to Frontier about five years ago. They pay nearly $200 each month for a bundle that includes phone, internet and FiOS TV. Kathy Koss is unhappy about the loss of KOMO, and a programming menu that isn’t working as part of her FiOS package. They are considering the TV option their daughter uses in Idaho — an antenna to get local stations.
Everett’s Brooks Smothers describes himself as a cable TV “cord cutter.” He saw that KOMO wasn’t available on Frontier while at a friend’s house on New Year’s Eve. They tried tuning in to the New York City celebration on ABC, so the kids at the gathering wouldn’t have to wait until midnight. “We were very disappointed that our New Year’s Eve celebration with our children ended as such a dud,” he said.
Barry Faber is Sinclair’s executive vice president for distribution and network relations. There are now no negotiations happening between Frontier and Maryland-based Sinclair, he said Tuesday. Another Sinclair station, KATU in Portland, Oregon, is also affected.
Faber said Sinclair’s pricing is “consistent with many deals we’ve done recently.”
“They just decided they don’t want to pay that amount. That’s their decision,” Faber said. “It’s up to subscribers to decide what they want to do. If I were a subscriber, I’d think about leaving them.”
Faber said pricing for cable providers should take into account a channel’s popularity, and the costs to create programming. Popularity is measured by ratings. With “Modern Family” and “Dancing with the Stars,” ABC is showing “incredibly popular programs,” he said.
In my perfect world, I would pick just the dozen or so channels I watch and only pay for those. “It doesn’t work that way,” Faber said. “The whole industry is built on everybody subsidizing everybody else’s favorites. It would probably cost you more to do it that way.”
Should I cancel Frontier? Cut the cord and rely on Netflix, or DVDs from the library? As long as the Seahawks aren’t on Channel 4, I don’t have to decide in a hurry.
But this customer will need an alternative come Oscar night — the 89th Academy Awards will be broadcast Feb. 26 on ABC. One way or another, I’ll be watching.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; email@example.com.
Information about Frontier Communications’ TV lineup changes and how to view unavailable channels is online at: https://frontier.com/helpcenter/articles/channelupdates.
For help, call Frontier at 800-921-8101 for residential customers or 800-921-8102 for business customers.