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Posts tagged: Fox Network

After a month, KAYU signals finally turned back on for DIRECTV customers

Wednesday's Spokesman.com had a story on the four-week truce between Northwest Broadcasting, Inc., and DirecTV over the retransmission fee to be paid to carry KAYU signals.

Bottom line, folks don't have to buy an antenna or drive miles to see the Super Bowl this weekend.

There are still issues to be resolved; the two sides agreed to get together and push for an agreement.

One of the notable terms of the ceasefire was a request by Northwest's CEO and President Brian Brady that the negotiations become one-on-one. That request included a specific request that Brady meet with  DirecTV's CEO Michael White in a one-to-one session.

Which tells people: these two companies tried to resolve this dispute through proxies and totally by phone or e-mail. With disappointing results.

Notably, Brady's announcement on Tuesday included mention of the fact that DirecTV had agreed to start refunding the high-priced early termination fees some subscribers had to incur to leave DirecTV.

DirecTV said: No, we're not agreeing to do that.  Dan Hartman, the senior VP of programming for Los Angeles-based DirecTV, said those refunds are not part of the negotiations.

That doesn't mean refunds won't be provided. It just said they are not linked to the contract talks.

Looking for numbers: how much should DIRECTV pay KAYU for programs?

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?

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.

Disgruntled Fox viewers who can’t switch have just one option: over-the-air viewing

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….

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.

Should Congress prevent station ‘blackouts’ in contract disputes?

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….

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

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

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