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A run for antennas continues during KAYU-DIRECTV blackout

The Seahawks season is over but Spokane and North Idaho TV viewers are still chasing down indoor or outdoor antennas. Area retailers say the surge in antenna-shopping is tied to the three-week TV blackout affecting DIRECTV subscribers.

The blackout, which began Jan. 1, has left many DIRECTV subscribers unable to watch Fox Network shows, carried by Spokane Fox affiliate KAYU TV.

Northwest Broadcasting, the owner of KAYU, is seeking an increase in how much DIRECTV pays it for carrying the Fox broadcasts. DIRECTV has said the request is exorbitant.

The blackout has no effect on over-the-air viewers or those using cable or Dish Network.

“We’re selling about 10 antennas a day,” said Casey Randolf, a sales associate for the NorthTown Mall Radio Shack.

Pat Williams, department lead for the East Sprague Kmart, said the store sold out its dozen indoor antennas by Thursday.

Jason Simonetti, an associate at the Post Falls Radio Shack, said the store sold out all its antennas last Friday, two days ahead of the Seahawks playoff game carried by Spokane TV station KAYU.

The Seahawks season may be over but fans of “American Idol,” “House” and other Fox shows still are looking for an over-the-air solution to the blackout, said Simonetti.

Local electronics stores also are handling questions from DIRECTV customers with questions on how to connect an antenna to a TV. Randolf said the basic answer is: find the antenna-in connection on the back of the TV, then connect the antenna there. Next, use the remote to direct the TV to display the antenna signal, instead of the satellite feed.

Depending on the distance a house is from KAYU’s broadcast tower or a translator, some viewers may need an external antenna to get the signal, said Randolf.

A Friday press release from Northwest Broadcasting said the company made another offer to DIRECTV, but was rebuffed. It offered no other details on the offer and the difference between the parties.

In an e-mailed reply, DIRECTV Senior VP of Programming Acquisitions, Dan Hartman, said: "Since both sides seem to be spinning our wheels at the moment, we ask Northwest to restore their channels and to let an independent arbitrator resolve this matter.  This solution will end consumer disruption and allow for an independent, unbiased, third-party to decide the value of their channels."

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