Retrans fight on the Great Plains


KXJB-TV (CBS) Fargo has been pulled from DirecTV’s local-to-local feed (as of Thursday evening) after the parties failed to come to terms on a new retransmission consent agreement. Parker Broadcasting’s station (operated under a local agreement by Hoak Media) says it is only seeking what it knows DirecTV pays in other markets, while DirecTV insists that KXJB’s demands are “nothing short of outrageous.”

“DirecTV charges its customers (including me – I am a DirecTV customer) about five dollars a month to receive the local channels. What we’re asking for is a tiny fraction of that, and, again, is very much in line with what we know DirecTV is paying stations in other markets,” said General Manager Charley Johnson in a message to viewers on the station website. He’s also been appearing in news reports to comment on the negotiations and those videos are posted on the website. The site also lists phone numbers for people wishing to switch to Dish Network or local cable systems, which continue to carry KXJB.

“We believe viewers in the Fargo-Valley City market are just as important to DirecTV as viewers in New York or Chicago or any other city. We all pay the same amount to receive the local channels as people in those other cities do. If you have contact with DirecTV representatives, I hope you’ll mention that to them,” he said in one of his “Manager’s Mailbag” appearances.

According to the Forum newspaper in Fargo, some 25,000 DirecTV subscribers in the Red River Valley are currently without access to CBS programming.

The current dispute does not affect Hoak Media’s KVLY-TV, the market’s NBC affiliate, also managed by Johnson.

RBR/TVBR observation: Now is the time for posturing, but we don’t expect this to last long. The satellite and cable companies have established a pattern. Pull a broadcast signal off and complain loudly, but then come back to the negotiating table before you lose too many subscribers to competitors.