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Verizon/Tegna contract negotiations halted as 3-station blackout continues

Verizon Communications Inc. said retransmission-consent renewal negotiations with TEGNA Inc. have stopped, a development that will extend the disconnect between the parties for three stations.

Tegna and Verizon could not reach an agreement by 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2018. Since then, WUSA, the CBS (US) affiliate in Washington, D.C.; WVEC, the ABC (US) affiliate in Norfolk, Va.; and WGRZ, the NBC (US) affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y., have remained dark to the telco's video subscribers in those markets.

Now, the telco said Tegna is no longer negotiating and has not responded to its last offer.

"Tegna is demanding nearly double current monthly rates and using its own viewers as leverage, even as ratings on broadcast TV are down," Verizon said in a statement. "We remain hopeful that Tegna will respond to Verizon's last proposal so we can focus on reaching a fair deal and returning the channels to customers."

For its part, Tegna said it remains "ready to reach a fair deal with Verizon, just as we have with every major cable and satellite company in the country over the past few years. We have made multiple, market-based offers to Verizon and continue to hope we reach an agreement that restores our signal as soon as possible."

If the blackout continues, Verizon subscribers could miss NFL Wild Card playoff action this weekend. ABC is simulcasting ESPN (US)'s coverage of Houston-Indianapolis game Jan. 5, while CBS is airing the Dallas-Seattle matchup in prime time that night.

NBC will televise the Chicago-Philadelphia contest Jan. 6, with the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards following that night.

Verizon has been engaged in a couple of carriage situations over the past week. The telco reached a broad distribution renewal with the Walt Disney Co. on Dec. 30, 2018, the day before the parties' contract was set to expire.

Verizon Fios also removed multicultural music network FUSE (US) from its lineup, effective Jan.1, citing costs relative to viewership levels.