These disputes should be settled on a market basis only not nationwide.
I've seen some small market newscasts that look like public access, they certainly don't have the budget of a big market, so where is the money going?Companies like Nexstar own a bunch of local stations all over the country and negotiate with providers like Directv as a group. This is no different than Disney negotiating for several ESPN channels, several Disney channels and several ABC channels as a group instead of one by one. We would probably see MORE disputes/outages if Disney negotiated separately for ESPN and ESPN2, and Nexstar negotiated separately for a station in Oklahoma City and a station in Miami Florida.
Almost all the money goes back to the network. Local stations mainly survive on advertising revenue.
That may be true in the case of independent or small groups of stations, but big companies like Nexstar and Sinclair make tons of money off the cable and satellite fees they get from subscribers. Their ability to "synergize" and cut expenses makes them very profitable. Being big means getting a better deal from both the Networks themselves and from DirecTV and the like, plus they have consolidated newsrooms, and they commonly own more than 1 station in a market, making them more attractive to advertisers who are then willing to pay higher rates.