Station Disputes: What are they and how does cj handle them?

by Laura Hudson | February 10, 2015

Part 1 of a multi-part series on “Going Behind the Media Curtain”

The arguing, the negotiating, the fighting… Can’t we all just get along?

The term “station dispute” refers to what is actually a carriage dispute—when the carrier of your television feed disputes the cost of that feed with the creator of the content. In simpler terms: your cable or satellite company pays the networks to carry their programming, and when the time comes to renew the contract, the two companies argue over the cost.

Most times, negotiations between the two parties result in a new contract and the consumer is none the wiser. But sometimes, the two parties cannot agree on new contract terms and consumers experience a blackout. A great example of this is the recent blackout of Fox News on DISH Network. The two companies resolved their issues mid-January.

So there’s a blackout—what happens now?
I’d love to tell you that we are solely responsible for ending all quarrels and making the media world a nicer, sunnier place. That’s not entirely true though.

Here’s what we do when we discover a blackout:

If any station on your media buy is blacked-out for any amount of time on any carrier, we immediately begin our station dispute process. This starts with an email to our reps letting them know that we expect timely updates on the situation. It ends with us getting you some free spots to make up for the rating points that were missed during the squabble.

But what happens to my schedule/spots during the blackout?
Your spots are running as usual on ALL other stations and carriers in the market. There is only downtime on the blacked-out station (e.g. Fox News) for the percentage of the market that uses that carrier (DISH Network). All in all, it’s usually very small, and the effect a blackout may have on the total spots you air in a day shouldn’t have a significant impact on your call volume.

However, it is a great opportunity for your buyer to negotiate some freebies and ensure the stations will post/air all the rating points as promised.

Bottom line, when your spots aren’t on all carriers, all the time, we notice—and you can bet we’ve got a process for resolving the issue behind this fancy media curtain.