ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC Networks Take on Local Stations in Battle Over Deals With Hulu, Fubo




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A battle is brewing between the big networks and local station owners over a rule change that’s being considered by the Federal Communications Commission. Today’s salvo comes from the likes of ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Warner Bros. Discovery and a host of other big media players, who have formed their own consortium to advocate for their interests.

The Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition was formed in reaction to the Coalition for Local News, which itself launched earlier this month as a collective of hundreds of local TV station owners vying for the right to individually negotiate on their own. The local TV owners want the FCC to change a nearly decade-old law that would require live TV streaming services to strike deals with each of them individually, in line with how traditional cable companies must operate.

At stake is the future of how these deals are struck, which could have a dramatic impact on the local channels that will be available on your streaming services.

The local networks argue that allowing the flexibility to negotiate on their own would better allow them to get fair value for their content. But the major networks, all of whom own their own streaming services, argue this will hurt consumer choice.

“In reality, these station group efforts are not about getting local TV content onto streaming platforms – that’s already happening. Rather, this is about trying to use government mandates to interfere with business negotiations,” said Bryce Harlow, spokesperson for the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition. 

In the early days of live TV streaming, local channels agreed to let the companies behind the big networks like ABC, CBS and FOX negotiate as a block on their behalf, which they now argue has undervalued their content as these services have exploded in popularity.

“We don’t doubt the members of this newly launched coalition value local news – some of them even own local news stations, albeit as relatively small parts of much larger corporations,” the Coalition for Local News said in an emailed statement. “But the current system, which cuts local broadcasters out of the negotiation process for distributing our stations on the fastest growing streaming platforms, puts local news in existential danger.”

Other members of the Preserve Viewer Choice group include Fubo, Roku, Telemundo and Univision.

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