Posts tagged: American Television Alliance
Day 24 of the KAYU DIRECTV blackout, with no sign that the impasse will end soon.
We asked both sides by e-mail if movement was likely today.
We learned neither side seems optimistic. DIRECTV said, simply, they saw nothing new to resolve the long dispute — which centers on how much DIRECTV will pay, per household, for the ability to deliver KAYU's Fox Network Spokane-based programs to viewers in the region.
Jon Rand, COO of Northwest Broadcasting, which runs KAYU TV, said about the same:
“DIRECTV has made no offer in response to our new offer on Friday. In fact, they are still sitting where there were on Jan. 1, while we have made three proposals to them.”
We have no clarity on how much distance the two sides are apart, in price.
What would be helpful is to find what other affiliates are getting from DIRECTV or from Dish Network, for similarly sized markets, comparable to Spokane.
Anyone have access to solid numbers? What is the fee per TV household that DIRECTV pays to affiliates in Boise, or in Tacoma?
What does Comcast pay in those cities? Anyone?
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.
Now in the 21st day of a broadcast blackout, the opposing sides of KAYU-TV (Northwest Broadcasting, Inc.) and DIRECTV haven't said a word about how soon they expect a solution.
The battle is largely over the retransmission fee Northwest Broadcasting is seeking from DIRECTV. That fee is based on market estimates and the number of households that are gaining KAYU's broadcasts via DIRECTV. Each broadcaster negotiates those retransmission fees with satellite and cable companies.
The parties aren't talking openly about the proposed rates and counteroffers.
The issue affects thousands of TV viewers in Eastern Washington and North Idaho who use DIRECTV.
DIRECTV has told many of its more-distant viewers that they can watch an alternate satellite feed of Fox programs delivered from an Los Angeles station.
That only applies to residents who are deemed eligible because they can't receive an over-the-air signal from KAYU's Tower Mountain antenna, or one of its regional translators.
Robert Mercer, a DIRECTV spokesman, said the satellite company has already “turned on” the optional alternate feed for those subscribers who are affected by the blackout and who are eligible. He declined to say how many homes that encompasses.
Meanwhile, any DIRECTV customer who lives close enough to be capable of watching KAYU with an antenna has two choices….only one of which is useful. (I guess there is the third choice: quitting DIRECTV and finding a new provider.)
If the customer wants to remain with DIRECTV, he or she can file a waiver request from KAYU to allow DIRECTV to provide the alternate feed from LA. But that's totally futile.
That has no chance of succeeding. Jon Rand, COO of Northwest Broadcasting, said the station's affiliate status with Fox Broadcast Network would be jeopardized by allowing those waivers.
So the only other choice is… connecting one's TV to an antenna and watching Fox broadcasts the old-fashioned way. Good luck….
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.
If you're one of the thousands of area TV households that are blacked-out because of the dispute between Northwest Broadcasting Inc. and DIRECTV, here's one option: contact Congress.
The dispute led to a full FOX network blackout for about 170,000 households who use DIRECTV in five TV markets to watch Spokane's KAYU and other stations.
Nearly every year some provider, like Comcast, Time Warner, Dish Network or DIRECTV engages in a stare-down with a broadcast company over retransmission payments. That's the negotiated price carriers like DIRECTV pay to broadcasters like Northwest Broadcasting for providing that station's programs to subscribers.
The American Television Alliance, based in D.C., has advocated for viewer protection by suggesting Congress or the FCC should set rules over retransmission disputes. Its website includes a link where concerned viewers can email Congress. It's here or http://www.americantelevisionalliance.org/whats-the-issue/ if you need to cut and paste.
The next question: Do you want Congress involved in broadcast disputes? There are a range of answers; and the one we think is acceptable is: No.
We don't want federal intervention other than requiring stations to carry those signals while a contract dispute lingers.
But also, there needs to be some time limit on that mandated continued coverage. If it's an open-ended requirement that no broadcasts can be shut down during a dispute, it's certain that some contract impasses will linger longer than they now do.
Is there a better idea out there? Let's hear your suggestions….
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.”