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 …
Here’s an issue that unites Democrats and Republicans in Massachusetts: Lawmakers there are virtually begging DirecTV and Sunbeam Television to end their contract standoff — or at least let Boston-area satellite subscribers see their hometown New England Patriots meet the New York Giants in the Super Bowl on February 5. It would be “almost unthinkable” to have local residents miss the game, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said in a letter today to the companies. On January 14, the TV station owner took down its Boston NBC affiliate WHDH and CW affiliate WLVI — as well as Miami’s Fox affiliate WSVN. It wants higher fees for the stations; DirecTV says the price hike comes to 300% — more than it’s willing to pay. “If people in Boston miss the Super Bowl this year because of this dispute, I can assure you that it will lead more and more people to throw up their hands and say, ‘a pox upon both of their houses’,” Kerry wrote.
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.