Frontier's (FTR) FiOS Customers Lose Access To Cox's KIRO-TV

Frontier Communications Corporation’s FTR FiOS customers in the Seattle area have reportedly lost access to Cox Media Group’s KIRO-TV programming. Per sources, the companies failed to extend a carriage deal, which led to the blackout of CBS, Get TV and Laff TV programming.

Frontier Communications is one of the leading telecommunications company in the United States, providing services to urban, suburban and rural communities in 29 states through.

KIRO-TV is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Seattle, Washington, United States and Tacoma. Cox operates 14 broadcast television stations and a local cable channel, more than 60 radio stations, six daily newspapers and more than 12 non-daily publications.

Frontier Communications claims that Cox was seeking a programming fee hike of more than 80% over the next three years, to broadcast respective content. This was declined by Frontier Communications, as it will increase customers’ monthly bills.

Such customer-friendly moves look impressive. Moreover, apprehension about customer loss might have prompted the company to decline the price-hike deal. In third-quarter 2017, Frontier Communications reported declining subscriber statistics. As of Sep 30, 2017, the number of consumer segment customers fell 10.9% year over year to 4,486,000. The average monthly consumer revenues per customer were $80.91, down 1.7% sequentially. Consumer segment customer monthly churn was 2.08%, flat year over year. Commercial segment customers declined 10.3%, year over year to 463,000. The company had 4,000,000 high-speed broadband subscribers, down 8.3% and 981,000 video customers, down 19.7% year over year.

However, the company continues with efforts to reach a rational agreement with Cox to regain the programming channels.

It seems that 2018 has barely begun and the retransmission and carriage fee blackout problem continues to worsen. Recently, Altice USA Inc ATUS and Starz Inc. have failed to ink a new programming deal on the eve of New Year. This led to the blackout of 17 Starz, StarzEncore and MoviePlex premium channels in Altice USA’s Optimum and Suddenlink cable TV services, since midnight Dec 31.

Other Retransmission Conflicts

Conflict between TV broadcasters and pay-TV operators is not new in the United States.

In October 2017, Verizon Communications Inc. VZ dropped Univision Inc.’s Spanish language TV channels from its fiber-based FiOS TV network. Viacom and Charter Communications are still holding discussions to reach a negotiation. In November 2017, DISH Network Corp DISH inked a multi-year program licensing deal with CBS Corp, after resolving a three-day blackout.

Zacks Rank & Price Performance

Currently, Frontier Communications is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Over the past year, shares of Frontier Communications have lost 86.9% compared with the industry's decline of 56.9%.


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