Hearst hunkers down with DirecTV on retransmission


The retransmission contract between Hearst Television and satellite service DirecTV expires 12/31/10, and while the company believes that the two parties can come to an agreement before then, its television stations are warning local viewers of the potential for a disruption of service if they are DirecTV subscribers.

One such station was Hearst’s WBAL-TV in Baltimore. In a message to viewers published on the station’s website, WBAL-TV President and General Manager Jordan Wertlieb commented, “We believe that we and DirecTV can conclude our negotiations before January 1st so as not to deprive any of our respective viewers and customers of our programming. However, we want to advise our viewers and customers that the possibility of non-renewal of our current agreement exists. We will continue to keep our valued viewers informed of developments, on our air and our website, www.wbaltv.com.”

Hearst claims ownership of 29 television stations (along with two Baltimore radio stations), including 13 ABC affiliates, 10 NBC affiliates and two CBS affiliates.

Markets in which Hearst owns and/or operates one or two stations include Boston MA/Manchester NH, Tampa-St. Petersburg FL, Orlando FL, Pittsburgh PA, Baltimore MD, Greenville-Spartanburg SC, West Palm Beach FL, Lancaster PA, Greensboro/Winston-Salem NC, Louisville KY, Portland-Auburn ME, Burlington VT/Plattsburgh NY, Kansas City MO, Cincinnati OH, Milwaukee WI, Oklahoma City OK, New Orleans LA, Des Moines IA, Omaha NE, Jackson MS, Fort Smith-Fayetteville AR, Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto CA, Albuquerque NM, Honolulu HI and Monterey-Salinas CA.

RBR-TVBR observation: Why would Hearst believe that it will successfully conclude this negotiation on time? Because that’s what almost invariably happens. The broadcast company offered a prudent warning to its viewers that did not disparage the satellite company sitting across the table, striking a note of civility that should prove beneficial during the hours spent at the negotiating table.