Disney-Fios squabble won’t affect New Year’s Day bowl game viewing
Rest easy local Penn State fans.
Verizon Fios subscribers in the Pittsburgh area will not have their ABC or ESPN bowl game viewing threatened by the ongoing talks between Disney and the cable TV service, a Verizon spokeswoman said Friday.
The only two ABC affiliates that could be affected if contract negotiations break down are WPVI-TV in Philadelphia and WABC-TV in New York, said the spokeswoman, who declined to be identified. Both are owned by Disney.
The contract between Disney and Verizon Fios expires on Monday, creating fears that, if an agreement is not reached, some subscribers will lose ABC and ESPN programming on New Year’s Day. That day’s college football bowl games include the Citrus Bowl between Penn State and Kentucky at 1 p.m. on ABC.
But the Verizon spokeswoman said viewers of WTAE-TV, the ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh, will not be affected. WTAE is owned by Hearst Television Inc.
Verizon said in a statement that Disney is proposing Verizon pay hundreds of millions of dollars more for its programming, even though many of its key networks are experiencing declining viewership. Disney wants Verizon to buy the ACC Network, which televises Atlantic Coast Conference sporting events — including those of the University of Pittsburgh.
Charles W. Wolfertz, president and general manager of WTAE, could not be reached for comment.
Disney has created an advertisement to run on its channels to alert Verizon customers of the possible loss of programming.
“Our negotiations continue in earnest and we remain optimistic that we can reach a deal,” Disney said in a statement.
The company is “actively negotiating with Disney to ensure the best deal for our customers,” said Verizon spokeswoman Adria Tomaszewski.
Details on how much money Disney wants Verizon to pay for the right to its programming were not available.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected]ribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.