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The Weather Channel In Open Letter To DirecTV: You Really Oughta Waive Fees For Your Customers Who Want To Flee

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 9:09pm PST

Weather Channel DirecTVOn a day when a blizzard blanketed a large chunk of the country in snow and ice, there’s a new offensive in the carriage war between DirecTV and the Weather Channel. As the blackout continued during the whiteout, TWC has fired off an open letter to the satcaster’s board (read it here). The missive, signed by the Weather Company Chairman and CEO David Kenny, urges DirecTV to waive termination fees for customers who want to switch to a provider that carries the Weather Channel. “We have heard from viewers DirecTV Weather channelacross the country, like Heather in Texas who wrote, ‘We just signed on with DIRECTV.…Had I known this was going to happen I would NOT have signed up. I read the fine print (too late) and found that they can do that. It’s wrong.’” The letter, dated tomorrow, closes with a near-plea for expediency: “As our team of more than 220 expert meteorologists tracks winter storms, wildfires in Southern California, and many other potential weather emergencies, a prompt reply—not to me, but to your customers—would surely be appreciated.”

Related:
Weather Channel Pushing Public Safety Image After DirecTV Blackout
DirecTV Hits Back In Weather Channel Spat, Citing Customer Complaints

All this comes on the heels of the Weather Channel’s weekend session at TCA, when execs reiterated their claim that DirecTV’s blackout — which began January 14 at midnight ET.  is putting Americans at risk. The Q&A with TV critics was one day at Moody’s warned that the channel’s bond rating could suffer if the satcaster dispute continues. Read TWC’s press release that accompanied its letter to DirecTV below:
Read More »

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It’s Over! DirecTV & Viacom Reach Carriage Agreement, Viacom Nets Restored

By | Friday July 20, 2012 @ 3:26am PDT

DirecTV’s 20M customers have their MTV – and 16 other Viacom channels – again. The companies said this morning that they’ve resolved their 10-day contract dispute, which took more channels from more consumers than any other fight so far between a pay TV distributor and programmer. That will come as a relief to DirecTV customers who are fans of channels including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET and Spike. Investors also will be glad to see an end to what many feared could have become an extended black out that might trash both companies’ earnings. In addition, Hollywood moguls will be pleased: Several have told our Nikki Finke that they’ve found it hard to promote movies while Viacom’s youth-oriented channels have been dark in so many homes. Read More »

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DirecTV And Sunbeam Settle Boston And Miami TV Carriage Disputes

By | Thursday January 26, 2012 @ 3:10pm PST

DirecTV customers in the Boston area don’t have to worry about being unable to see their hometown team, the New England Patriots, play in the Super Bowl against the New York Giants. The program carriage dispute, which began on January 14 when Sunbeam took its stations off of DirecTV, ended the way most do: A lot of noise before reason prevails. DirecTV had said that Sunbeam wanted a 300% price increase, which the satellite company wouldn’t pay. But the companies aren’t disclosing financial terms. Here’s DirecTV’s release:

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Jan. 26, 2012 – DIRECTV released the following statement today:
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement to end the Sunbeam blackout, and regret that any of our customers were forced into the middle of a business dispute where they should never have been in the first place. We believe, like many, the public interest is best served by allowing customers to keep their local broadcast stations as we negotiate future agreements, rather than being denied access by broadcast stations and used as leverage in what should be a private business matter.”

The Sunbeam-owned stations – WHDH and WLVI in Boston and WSVN in Miami – are now available for DIRECTV customers in those cities.

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Last Minute Effort Fails To Save NFL And Golden Globe Telecasts For Some DirecTV Customers

By | Sunday January 15, 2012 @ 4:23pm PST

DirecTV’s sports fans in Miami already know the bad news, and showbiz devotees in Boston soon will: The satellite company failed to strike a carriage deal with Sunbeam Television prior to Fox’s broadcast of the NFL playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants — and there are no plans to talk before NBC shows the Golden Globes tonight.  Sunbeam owns Fox-affiliate WSVN in Miami where DirecTV has about 250,000 customers, and NBC affiliate WHDH and CW affiliate WLVI in Boston where the satellite company has 200,000 subs. In an email sent just before game time DirecTV asked Sunbeam for permission show the match without a contractual agreement “so our customers will not be deprived of yet another playoff game in your markets.” The satellite company added that it is ”available at any time to discuss our agreement when you are ready to respond to our last offer.” Sunbeam, seeking a 300% in its rates, yanked its stations from DirecTV Friday at midnight.

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Some Sports Fans Can’t Watch NFL Playoffs

By | Sunday January 15, 2012 @ 12:23am PST

Miami-area sports fans who are also DirecTV customers are having to scramble this weekend to catch football playoffs on Fox. That’s because Sunbeam Television, owner of Fox affiliate WSVN, pulled the plug on DirecTV at midnight Friday. It’s the latest showdown between providers over increases in carriage fees. Sunbeam yanked their station feeds to DirecTV when the satcaster balked at a 300% increase in fees for the right to carry local station signals. (And Time Warner Cable thought Madison Square Garden’s purported demand for a 53% increase was steep. That New York dispute is still unresolved.)

Unless a settlement is reached before this afternoon, DirecTV subscribers who haven’t secured an alternative will miss today’s highly anticipated playoff between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers. Yesterday’s NFC playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints had DirecTV subscribers converging on electronics stores such as Best Buy nearly emptying shelves of broadcast antennas so they wouldn’t miss football and other Fox programming. Others turned to sports bars, which apparently weren’t affected.

WSVN general manager Robert Leider said DirecTV’s offer was below fair-market value, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. DirecTV has about 270,000 subscribers who are affected in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Approximately 270,000 customers were affected in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Sunbeam also cut DirecTV feeds from Boston’s NBC affiliate WHDH and CW affiliate WLVI.

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Fox Takes DirecTV Carriage War To L.A. Times Sports Page

With a November 1 deadline looming, News Corp. today purchased a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times sports section warning DirecTV customers that the satcaster was poised to drop nine networks if Fox’s dispute with DirecTV isn’t settled by month’s end. The full-color ad featured the heavy-handed banner ‘GAME OVER’ along with game pictures of USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins football and Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks ice hockey, all of which are threatened should the regional sports networks Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket be dropped. The ad then lists the networks that DirecTV could force to go dark: FS West, Prime Ticket, FX, Speed, National Geographic Channel, Fox Soccer, Fox Deportes, Fuel TV and Fox Movie Channel. “And soon,” the advertisement continues, “you could even lose Fox 11 and My 13,” specifically targeting viewers in Southern California. The Times ad then implores sports fans to “Get direct with DirecTV” by logging onto KeepMyNets.com or calling 866-KEEP-MY-NETS. As reported Thursday by Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, DirecTV claims in its statement that Fox is seeking a 40% increase in its license fees.

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Fox Cable Networks May Go Dark On DirecTV On Nov. 1 Over Carriage Dispute

Nellie Andreeva

Another major carriage dispute threatens to pull Fox’s cable networks from DirecTV systems on November 1. The affected networks include FX (including its hit Sons Of Anarchy and hot newcomer American Horror Story), National Geographic Channel, Speed, Fuel TV, Fox Soccer, Fox Movie Channel, Fox Deportes, and the 19 Fox regional sports networks. Fox Networks’ previous carriage agreement with DirecTV expired on September 30. After extending the talks, no progress was made, leading to a standoff between the two sides that may lead to the blackout. Exactly a year ago, the same networks went dark on DirecTV’s rival satcaster Dish Network before the two sides finally reached a new agreement. Like in previous carriage fights, both sides released dueling statements and launched competing websites — KeepMyNets.com (Fox) and OurPromiseToYou.com (DirecTV). In its statement, DirecTV claims that Fox is seeking a 40% license-fee increase. Here are the two statements: Read More »

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Sinclair, TWC Reach ‘Agreement In Principle’

Nellie Andreeva

Sinclair Broadcast Group and Time Warner Cable have reached an agreement in principle to end their carriage dispute. The new retransmission consent deal, whose details will be finalized over the next week, will prevent Sinclair’s 28 stations in mid-size markets  such as Pittsburgh and Milwaukee of going dark for 4 million subscribers in 21 markets. The two sides’ previous agreement expired on Dec. 31 but at the last minute, Sinclair and TWC agreed to a two-week extension. “We’re pleased to reach an agreement with Sinclair Broadcasting without any interruption in service for our customers,” said Rob Marcus, TWC’s president and  COO. There are smaller stations operators whose stations’ signal has been pulled as part of retransmission consent disputes: we are in Week 3 of Northwest Broadcasting’s blackout on DIRECTV in 3 markets and Frontier Radio Management’s blackout on DISH Network in Macon, GA.

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UPDATE: Last-Minute Extension Agreement Between Comcast & DISH Keeps E! & Style

Nellie Andreeva

Hours before DISH Network’s carriage agreement with Comcast’s E! and Style was to to expire at midnight, threatening a blackout of the two cable networks on DISH, the two sides have agreed to a short-term extension. The deal is “in hopes of reaching a long term solution,” E! and Style said in a statement.

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Comcast’s E! and Style Face Blackout On Dish Network In Carriage Dispute

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: The countdown to New Year’s eve is on, and so are the countdowns to a couple of possible channel blackouts as a number of carriage agreements expire at midnight on Dec. 31. Comcast’s E! and Style just issued a statement warning viewers that the two networks may go dark on DISH Network. Also tomorrow night, another satcaster, DirecTV, could drop the Golf Channel. Additionally, Sinclair’s 33 broadcast stations face blackout on Time Warner Cable systems as the two companies continue to be at odds over retransmission consent fees. Meanwhile, another station group, Hearst, just reached a last-minute agreement with DirecTV, so its 29 broadcast stations will remain on the DirecTV systems into the new year. Here is E! and Style’s statement:

We are in active negotiations with DISH Network.  We are trying to reach a fair agreement, however, it is our belief they will once again turn their backs on their subscribers by dropping the networks and holding E! and Style fans hostage. In actively choosing to discontinue these two networks, Dish is denying their subscribers E!, the ultimate network for entertainment fans with marquee January events from exclusive coverage of Red Carpet season to the premiere of the new season of the Kardashian show Kourtney & Kim Take NY, and Style, the home of transformations, from fashion, to beauty to home, featuring all-new seasons of

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AT&T & Scripps Networks Reach Agreement

Nellie Andreeva

After a three-day blackout of Scripps Networks’ cable networks, including HGTV and Food Network, on AT&T U-Verse, the two sides tonight reached a new distribution agreement. The five Scripps channels affected, HGTV, Food Network, DIY, Cooking Channel and Great American Country have been restored in 2.7 million AT&T U-verse homes. Details of the agreement were not disclosed, though AT&T U-Verse SVP Brian Shay called it a “fair deal.”

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Scripps Networks Are Off AT&T U-Verse

Nellie Andreeva

Another week, another carriage dispute that escalated into channels being pulled from a cable/satellite system. This time, it is the Scripps Networks, including HGTV and Food Network, which went black on AT&T U-Verse at 1 AM. The same networks were also off Cablevision for 3 weeks at the beginning of the year as part of the two sides’ nasty carriage dispute. In the summer, AT&T U-Verse came close to losing AMC in a standoff with Rainbow Media but the companies reached a last-minute agreement, preventing a blackout. Here is AT&T’s release: Read More »

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War Is Over: Fox & Cablevision Reach Deal

Nellie Andreeva

After a two-week blackout, Fox signal was restored in some 3 million Cablevision homes just before the start of Game 3 of the World Series. Fox just announced that the two sides have reached “an agreement in principal for a new distribution agreement.” The agreement covers Fox O&Os WNYW in New York and WTXF in Philadelphia as well as MyNet’s WWOR in New York and cable channels FOX Deportes, FOX Business Network, and Nat Geo WILD. It will also allow Cablevision customers in the New York area to watch home NFL team, the New York Jets, in tomorrow’s match-up with the Green Bay Packers on Fox. The deal comes a day after Fox reached an agreement in its other carriage dispute with DISH Network. In its statement, Cablevision called the terms of the deal “unfair” and took a swipe at FCC for not intervening in the standoff. It also indicated that the rates in the final agreement were lower than the “unprecedented” fees Fox had initially asked for and that it would pass the rate increases on to its customers. (Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed but Fox had been seeking retransmission fees in the $0.50-$1 range per subscriber for its O&Os from cable and satellite providers.) Earlier this week, Cablevision offered to match the terms of Fox’s carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable for the network’s O&O … Read More »

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Dish Network, Fox Reach Carriage Deal

Nellie Andreeva

While it’s still fighting with Cablevision, Fox has settled its carriage dispute with Dish Network. It has signed a comprehensive deal for its broadcast network’s O&O stations as well as the cable channels that went dark on Oct. 1. (They have been restored today.) The Fox network signal was in jeopardy with the two sides’ previous deal expiring Sunday night. The agreement means Dish customers will have continued coverage of the World Series and the NFL unlike Cablevision subscribers who have been without Fox for 2 two weeks as the two sides have failed to agree on a new deal.

Los Angeles and Englewood, Colo. — DISH Network L.L.C., a subsidiary of DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH) and Fox Networks, an operating unit of News Corporation (NASDAQ: NWS), today announced a wide-ranging distribution agreement to provide the third-largest video distributor in the United States with continued access to programming from Fox Broadcasting and Fox local television stations in major cities. The agreement also included carriage of FX, National Geographic Channel, and Fox’s 19 regional sports networks, which were restored for DISH Network viewers Friday.

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Fox-Cablevision Carriage Spat Escalates With Cease And Desist Letter

Nellie Andreeva

In the latest salvo in Fox and Cablevision’s nasty carriage dispute that has led to the network’s blackout in 3 million Cablevision homes, Fox today served Cablevision with a cease and desist letter for what it described as “encouraging theft of copyrighted material.” Fox’s demand stems from news reports that Cablevision has allegedly directed subscribers to illegal websites to view Fox shows as well as NFL games and Major League Baseball playoffs. “Copyright law exists to protect the very creative freedoms that fuel our industry,” Fox said in a statement. “As both a creator and owner of intellectual property – not to mention major sports franchises — Cablevision knows better and should immediately call an end to this unlawful activity.”

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Cablevision And Fox Spar Over ‘Good Faith’ Negotiation

Nellie Andreeva

Cablevision and Fox have until end of day today to file documents with the FCC proving that they have been negotiating in good faith in their carriage dispute that has kept Fox blacked out in 3 million Cablevision homes for the past 10 days. Cablevision has already sent its response, in which it defends its negotiating tactic, accuses Fox in bad faith negotiations and urges the FCC to intervene with the World Series coverage on Fox only 2 days away. Fox, which is yet to file, issued a statement blasting Cablevision’s accusations. Here are an excerpt from Cablevision’s FCC filing and Fox’s response: Read More »

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UPDATE: Cablevision-Fox War Of Words Intensifies As Political Pressure Mounts

Nellie Andreeva

Here is a brief recap of the events on Day 4 of the Fox blackout on Cablevision that has affected some 3 million  homes in the New York area.

All quiet on the actual negotiations front: “Fox and Cablevision held a short phone call today,” Fox said. “No material progress was made and we remain far apart. Both sides agreed to continue talking tomorrow.” But in the public space and in Washington, the spat created a storm, with more and more politicians weighing in. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) today sent FCC chairman Julius Genachowski a copy of legislation he is drafting, which would mandate that retrans disputes be taken to a third party arbitrator and would put enough safe guards to prevent network blackouts in such disputes. In turn, Genachowski today issued his most sternly-worded statement on the issue yet, in which he said he called the CEOs of the two companies and urged them to negotiate in good faith and reach a deal, though he stopped short of getting the FCC to intervene as some have asked. ”I am deeply troubled that Cablevision and Fox are spending more time attacking each other through ads and lobbyists than sitting down at the negotiating table,” Genachowski said. “The time for petty gamesmanship is over.” Read More »

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UPDATE: Fox-Cablevision Carriage Spat Claims Baseball Game, Sides Still Far Apart

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE SUNDAY PM: After another session of talks today, Cablevision and Fox once again failed to make any “material progress” and remain far apart, according to a statement from Fox. Negotiations are scheduled to continue tomorrow. Meanwhile, the two sides continued their PR war with dueling statements. Cablevision once again pleaded for attention from Washington and pushed for binding arbitration: “The longer this shameful News Corp. blackout of the NFL and Major League Baseball continues, the more obvious it becomes to everyone, including political leaders of both parties, that binding arbitration is the fastest and fairest way to return Fox programming to Cablevision customers,” the company said. Fox released an open letter to Cablevision subscribers from Lew Leone, GM of the two Fox stations affected by the blackout. Here is a portion of it:

We offered Cablevision the exact same price that other companies are paying for our stations. But for some reason, Cablevision thinks that it deserves special treatment.

Instead of negotiating like a responsible business, Cablevision decided to make this your problem in the hope that if they caused you, the viewer, enough inconvenience, then politicians would intervene. That is what Cablevision’s call for “arbitration” is all about.   But ask yourself – do you think Cablevision would be ok with someone else stepping in to decide the price you pay them for cable and broadband service?

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Web Is New Battleground In Carriage Fights

Nellie Andreeva

Roll Over Or Get Tough… I Have Choices… Fighting 4 You… All sound like campaign slogans. cable warsAnd they are, but not for a political race: they are slogans used by cable companies and networks in more and more public battles over carriage agreements. This trend of launching a website to rally public opinion intensified in December, about a week before Time Warner’s and Fox’s agreement was about to expire. TWC launched RollOverOrGetTough.com, followed immediately by Fox’s KeepFoxOn.com. After the two sides reached a new deal on New Year’s Day, TWC’s site went dormant until the company reactivated it earlier this week as part of preparation for the upcoming standoff with Disney over ABC, ESPN, and other cable networks. (Their current agreement expires on September 2nd.) Disney’s response was a new site, IHaveChoices.com, which went live today, urging viewers in TWC markets to switch providers ahead of the Sept. 2 deadline.

This is the earliest I’ve seen companies involved in carriage negotiations start campaigning, a possible indication that the battle will be tough. For now, the two sides are actively talking with no signs of impasse. But they have checkered past (anyone remembers the ABC blackout on TWC systems during May sweep in 2000?) and the issue of retransmission consent fees for broadcast stations’ signal is a thorny one. In fact, also this week, TWC, along with most leading cable and satellite providers, telcos and a couple of cable channels announced the … Read More »

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