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Office Hours

Spokane KAYU-DIRECTV dispute one of 3 market blackouts over retransmission fees

Fans of the Simpsons…. you may be out of luck again, if you get Fox Network programs from DIRECTV.  A market DIRECTV blackout that began Jan. 1 continues, with no word on a possible solution.

A representative from one of the parties said, in an e-mail sent Friday afternoon, that the negotiations may continue over the weekend.

Fox viewers in the Spokane TV market bummed by the blackout from the dispute with DIRECTV should take some small comfort; they're not the only ones feeling the loss.

Three separate blackouts have marked the new yearr, according to the American Television Alliance, a Washington, D.C., association advocating for TV audiences.

The two others, outside the Spokane-Northwest Broadcasting-Fox snafu are a blackout by KOMU, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Mo., and Frontier Radio Management, which runs Fox and ABC affiliates in central Georgia.

The Missouri contretemps also involves DIRECTV; the Georgia dispute involves Dish Network.

The Spokane market dispute really involves five separate markets: Spokane, Tri-Cities, Yakima, Medford and Binghamton, N.Y. Earlier this week Northwest Broadcasting COO Jon Rand said the contact dispute may center on the money DIRECTV will pay for carrying the signals of those stations, but it was just one of four issues at the table. He declined to say what the other three issues are.

NEW:  As of Friday Jan. 7, Rand said the dispute now remains over just three issues.

He also said Northwest Broadcasting is seeking a traditional payment system; that would involve different rates-per-household across the five separate markets. Again, since the matter is in negotiation Rand said he wouldn't offer specifics.

The other side, DIRECTV, claims that Northwest Broadcasting is bargaining in bad faith and trying to use the dispute to extort a “600 percent” price increase. A DIRECTV press release said “Northwest Broadcasting … has decided they would rather deprive our customers of their local channels than make even an honest and good faith attempt to reach a fair deal in contract negotiations.”


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