Excessive MVPD demands cited in ongoing carriage dispute


ChatDirecTV ceased carrying five television stations owned and operated by Northwest Broadcasting as of 8/13/12. Northwest’s Brian Brady says price was not the problem, and that the impasse concerns other unspecified demands. DirecTV says otherwise.

According to an SNL Kagan report, DirecTV is bristling about a 300% increase in carriage fees being sought by Northwest, which has Fox affiliates in Medford OR, Spokane WA, Pendleton OR/Tri-Cities WA and Binghamton NY. In fact, DirecTV was reported by Kagan to have gone so far as to claim that Northwest was trying to “extort” its increased fee.

However, Brady told fans of the stations in a posting on the website of the Medford station that the two parties had no problem agreeing on price – he said that the satellite broadcaster offered to pay the increase.

Brady said he believed they were close to a deal in mid-August. “However, that offer came with burdensome other terms, demands that DirecTV has made of no other television stations. Therefore, I regret to tell you that on August 13th, DirecTV and FOX 26 ended our business ties and DirecTV has deleted us from your on-screen guide. My family started this company 17 years ago and this is not a decision we take lightly.”

Brady noted that DirecTV is one of the leading MVPD culprits when it comes to retransmission negotiations that result in blackouts. Brady told Kagan that the two major satellite MVPDs, the other being DISH Network, were in a class by themselves when it comes to retransmission headaches, and said they cannot be directly compared to most cable operators.

Both sides have been offering viewers alternatives to receive Fox programming in affected markets – including use of an alternate MVPD, receiving the stations off-air or using an internet source for the programming.

Kagan was curious as to what the unspecified burdensome requests from DirecTV might be. It noted that ad-skipping technology has come up, but that’s with DISH, and is not a feature of the DirecTV service. At the moment, the answer remains an undisclosed part of the negotiation process – which in the case of Northest and DirecTV, seems to have been tabled for the time being.