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Office Hours

Talks continuing to settle KAYU-DIRECTV contract impasse

With another sour weekend for DIRECTV customers straight ahead, we asked for some comments by the satellite service provider on what's keeping a settlement from resolving the blackout affecting KAYU's programs.

Since Jan. 1, KAYU, a part of Northwest Broadcasting, has not been carried to roughly 170,000 households in five markets, including Spokane, Tri-Cities, Yakima and Medford.

The dispute comes down to a number of questions, with money being a critical problem.

Unless the block on programming ends, thousands of Eastern Washington or North Idaho DIRECTV customers can't get the Spokane-KAYU Fox Broadcasting shows.

Especially painful for football fans are scheduled Fox broadcasts of two NFL playoff games: Atlanta vs.  Green Bay on Saturday, Seahawks vs. Bears on Sunday.

Robert Mercer, a spokesman for DIRECTV, sent this statement regarding the contract impasse:

“Their demand for a 600 percent increase is still on the table.  And our position is this: In the months of November and December alone, we came to an agreement with six broadcast groups, representing 67 markets and  86 individual local television stations across the country. And agreed to pay market prices for all of them. Now comes Northwest Broadcasting, who wants us to pay them fees that are astronomically higher than market.  We won’t do that to our customers because it would result in them paying significantly more for their programming than the normal yearly increase.”

For its part Northwest has said this is the first negotiation of its retransmission rates with DIRECTV for 10 years. Northwest COO Jon Rand has said Northwest is eager to settle, and he pointed to recent successful retransmission deals with Comcast, Dish Network and other cable companies.


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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.

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