Sinclair, Frontier end blackout of ABC affiliates, Tennis Channel

Serena Williams
The Tennis Channel and certain Sinclair ABC affiliates had been blacked out for Frontier subscribers. Image: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Sinclair Broadcast Group today announced it has reached a new agreement with Frontier Communications, ending a blackout that affected the Tennis Channel and Sinclair’s ABC stations in Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

The deal also covers markets where Frontier now offers subscription video services after acquiring parts of Verizon’s FiOS business last year.

"We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Frontier and regret any inconvenience to Frontier's subscribers as a result of the lack of carriage since January 1st," said Barry Faber, Sinclair's executive vice president of distribution & network relations, in a statement. "Frontier subscribers will once again enjoy the live, local news and popular programming airing on Sinclair stations, including both KOMO and KATU, as well as access to Tennis Channel's exclusive programming."

RELATED: Sinclair channels including Tennis Channel dropping from Frontier

The new agreement ends a standoff that began last year in December when Sinclair called out Frontier for impacting the customers it inherited from Verizon.

“We have successfully negotiated carriage for our ABC stations with all other video providers in these markets and secured coverage for Tennis in all of our recent retransmission negotiations,” said Faber in a statement (PDF). “It is particularly unfortunate that Frontier would choose to deny Tennis Channel to hundreds of thousands of homes that involuntarily became Frontier subscribers earlier this year as a result of Frontier’s recent acquisition of Verizon FiOS systems in Florida, Texas and California.”

Sinclair even threw in a pitch for viewers to switch to service providers like Comcast and DirecTV who will continue to carry Tennis Channel and suggested they get their ABC feeds for free over the air.

Frontier responded by accusing Sinclair of demanding exorbitant rates for the Tennis Channel.

“Every year, Frontier negotiates rates to carry cable networks and local TV stations to bring customers the best TV programming possible at the most reasonable prices. We are currently attempting to negotiate renewal terms with Sinclair Broadcast Group which is insisting on excessive rates and the inclusion of channels that our customers do not want,” said John Puskar, vice president of public relations for Frontier, in a statement provided to FierceBroadcasting.

The new agreement from both parties comes after they both agreed earlier this week to a carriage extension while a new distribution deal was being negotiated.

“We want to thank our customers for their patience and support as we worked to negotiate a fair extension. Frontier is pleased to again deliver these important local stations for our customer's viewing enjoyment,” said Frontier in a statement.

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