With Sinclair Broadcast Group’s blackout of two ABC affiliates on Frontier Communications in Seattle and Portland reaching the one-month mark, Frontier has begun offering free access to premium channels HBO, Showtime and Starz to affected customers.
"To show appreciation and thank our customers for their patience during our ongoing carriage negotiations, Frontier is proactively adding premium entertainment viewing options (like HBO, Showtime and Starz), at no additional cost, to all of its existing FiOS TV customers in the Portland and Seattle markets," Frontier spokesman Javier Mendoza said in a statement.
Sinclair blacked out KOMO-TV in Seattle and KATU-TV in Portland, Oregon, on Jan. 1 after failing to reach terms on a broadcast retransmission licensing deal—just one of nearly a dozen retrans disputes that resulted in programming being pulled off operator program guides.
After losing the ABC affiliates in the Northwest, Frontier took the battle national, dropping Sinclair-owned cable channel the Tennis Network for all of its FiOS customers.
Frontier serves roughly 3% of pay-TV homes in each market. Both stations are local ABC affiliates.
Frontier said the premium channels will be provided to affected subscribers for three months. Those who already subscribe to the HBO, Showtime and/or Starz will receive a $20 credit, good for things like VOD viewing.
"Frontier knows local programming is important to our customers and we are continuing to negotiate with Sinclair Broadcasting for a reasonable rate," Mendoza added.
Sinclair has not yet released a statement on the premium channel offer.
Shortly before the blackout, the broadcaster did say, however, “While we apologize for the inconvenience, we want to remind Frontier subscribers that there are other video distributor options, such as Comcast, DirecTV and Dish, available to provide their local stations’ programming, plus they can always watch for free over-the-air.”