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Frontier Gives TV Blackout Customers in Pacific Northwest Free HBO, Showtime, and Starz

Phillip Dampier January 31, 2017 Consumer News, Frontier No Comments

Frontier Communications FiOS customers in Oregon and Washington are getting free premium movie channels to make up for the loss of two local TV stations that pulled their signals off the lineup after failing to reach a contract extension agreement.

In a rare case of provider magnanimity, Frontier is giving customers three free months of HBO, Showtime, and Starz as part of its apology for the loss of two local ABC stations: KATU-Portland and KOMO-Seattle in a retransmission consent dispute:

Frontier knows how important local programming is to you. We would like to show our appreciation for your patience during our negotiations with Sinclair Broadcasting. Existing FiOS TV customers in the Portland and Seattle markets will receive complimentary access to select premium channels (HBO, Showtime or Starz) for the next 3 months. Enjoy this gift starting today! Don’t want the channels? Call 1.800.921.8101 to have them removed.

Cable operators rarely offer customers discounts on their bill or free channels as a consolation for the channel losses, but Frontier apparently wants to set a different standard with its FiOS fiber to the home customers in the Pacific Northwest.

KATU and KOMO, both owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, have been off the lineup since New Year’s Day. That caused subscribers in both cities to lose their local ABC stations. If customers already subscribe to one of the premium channels, they will receive a $20 credit usable for video-on-demand or pay-per-view events.

Getting KATU and KOMO over the air can be challenging for some Frontier customers in outer suburbs, so the loss of the stations could cause some customers to cancel service and switch providers.

“Frontier knows local programming is important to our customers and we are continuing to negotiate with Sinclair Broadcasting for a reasonable rate,” Frontier spokesman Javier Mendoza said in a written statement.

Frontier Refuses Refunds When Its TV Package Gets Slimmed Down By Contract Dispute

Phillip Dampier January 16, 2017 Competition, Consumer News, Editorial & Site News, Frontier 2 Comments

Frontier FiOS TV customers in the Seattle area are still paying the same price for a cable television package missing one of its most popular channels and the phone company won’t lower the bill.

Since the New Year began, a retransmission consent dispute between Frontier Communications and Sinclair Broadcast Group — the nation’s largest station group owner, has meant customers can no longer watch KOMO-TV (ABC) in Seattle on their Frontier FiOS lineup.

Daily Herald columnist Julie Muhlstein pondered if that should inspire more Washington residents to retaliate with some cord cutting of their own, especially after Frontier Communications delivered an unsympathetic response to the questions many cable customers ask when channels suddenly vanish from the lineup – why isn’t the bill going down?:

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.”

In other words, tough luck and no refunds. Watch something else.

Phillip Dampier: TV retransmission consent disputes will eventually cost both sides money and customers.

Frontier may be its own worst enemy deleting major network affiliates from the lineup, because for many subscribers, those are the channels that keep them subscribed to a bloated, overpriced cable television package that includes dozens of channels they will never watch. Once off the lineup, customers begin searching for alternatives, and something as simple as a good over-the-air antenna can restore free television channels that now cost many cable subscribers several dollars a month only because they travel across a wire or through a satellite dish.

Sinclair, for its part, isn’t terribly sympathetic to the consumer either, demanding an ever-increasing amount of compensation from cable and satellite providers to carry their local stations on the lineup.

Barry Faber, Sinclair’s executive vice president for distribution and network relations, says their asking price was perfectly reasonable for other providers (even though many promptly pass those fees on to consumers in the form of a ‘Broadcast TV Surcharge’). Faber implied Sinclair offered a ‘take it or leave it’ price and Frontier left it.

“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.”

Unfortunately for Sinclair, if subscribers go back to using an antenna for television, they will effectively no longer be filling Sinclair’s bank account either, because watching over the air television is still free, at least until someone tries to charge viewers for that as well.

Frontier Dumping Sinclair’s TV Stations, Tennis Channel in Retransmission Fee Dispute

Phillip Dampier December 21, 2016 Consumer News, Frontier 23 Comments

Frontier Communications has told Sinclair Broadcast Group the asking price to renew carriage of the Tennis Channel and several Sinclair over-the-air stations is too rich for their blood, and as a result will drop the channels Jan. 1, 2017.

The most affected network will be Sinclair’s Tennis Channel, which is seen in several hundred thousand homes subscribed to Frontier FiOS, U-verse, or its new IPTV service Vantage TV.

“We are not close,” Barry Faber, Sinclair’s executive vice president and general counsel, told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

Sinclair is the largest owner of local television stations in the country — owning or operating 173 stations in 81 cities. But only a handful are threatened by this contract dispute:

Market Station/Affiliation Channel SD/HD​
Portland, OR KATU: ABC ​2/502
KATU: MeTV 463
KATU: Comet ​466
Seattle, WA​ KOMO: ABC 4/504
KOMO: Comet 464
KOMO: Grit 465
Raleigh Durham, NC WRDC: MyNetworkTV ​28 (HD)
WRDC: Grit ​56 (SD)
Minneapolis, MN (S. Metro)​ WUCW: CW ​23 (HD)
WUCW: GetTV 67 (SD)
WUCW: Grit 68 (SD)
WUCW: Comet 69 (SD)
​Myrtle Beach, SC ​WPDE: ABC 15 (HD)
​WPDE: Local Weather ​50 (SD)
​WPDE: Comet 51 (SD)
WWMB: CW ​21 (HD)
​WWMB: CW Plus ​52 (SD)
WWMB: American Sports Network ​53 (SD)
​Charleston, SC WCIV: ABC 36 (HD)
​WCIV: My NetworkTV ​37 (HD)
WCIV: Me TV ​38 (HD)
All markets The Tennis Channel Varies by market

Frontier called Sinclair’s proposed renewal price “unreasonable” and stopped responding to Sinclair’s follow-up offers, according to Faber.

“And that’s where it stands,” Faber added. “We view it as negotiations are over.”

Bless Their Hearts: Frontier Fiddles While Rome, Ga. is Stuck in the Slow Lane

Phillip Dampier November 23, 2016 Editorial & Site News, Frontier, Video 1 Comment

Next time you are on hold or waiting for the service technician to show up to diagnose your interminably slow DSL, here is what the folks at Frontier might be doing instead of taking your call or delivering anything close to the FCC’s 25Mbps standard to qualify as real broadband.

OMG. I just can’t even describe this. From the folks at Frontier Communications Exposed. (4:37)

Frontier Will Ask Customers for $4.50 ‘Convenience Fee’ to Pay Bills By Phone

Phillip Dampier November 15, 2016 Consumer News, Frontier No Comments

frontier new logoA well-placed source inside Frontier Communications tells Stop the Cap! the phone company is planning to ask customers for a $4.50 “convenience fee” to make a bill payment by phone, starting as early as January 2017.

“We figured this was coming sooner or later, but it appears that Frontier is now doing everything they possibly can to boost revenue to shareholders because they are losing money hand over fist after their recent purchases of [former] Verizon and AT&T [landline customers in certain states] and their massive mishandling of those transitions,” the source tells us.

Our source advises that the convenience fee will only apply if a customer calls in and speaks to a representative to manage the bill payment over the phone. Customers can avoid the fee by making a payment themselves online or set up autopay on their account.

Customers who are past due may be transferred to collections representative to arrange bill payments. Make sure to ask if any fees will apply when doing so.

An increasing number of providers are adding new surcharges for bill payments managed by a live operator to cut call center costs.

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