There is no path forward in place at the moment when the retransmission consent agreement between Sinclair Broadcast Group and satellite MVPD DirecTV expires 2/28/13. Each is bracing its DirecTV viewers for a possible service stoppage.
Sinclair noted, “Sinclair Broadcast Group recently began informing its viewers that it does not expect DirecTV to continue to carry any of Sinclair’s stations after the existing carriage agreement terminates on February 28, 2013. Although DirecTV and Sinclair have been negotiating for quite some time in an effort to reach a new agreement, at this time it does not appear that these efforts will be successful. Although Sinclair does not believe that it is constructive to negotiate its private business relationships in public, Sinclair is informing the public in advance of the end of carriage because it is aware of the impact on a segment of the public from the end of the relationship between the Sinclair stations and DirecTV.”
In its own statement to subscribers, DirecTV said, “We’re engaged in productive discussions with Sinclair Broadcast Group to retain their local stations in the DIRECTV line-up. Our customers can be assured that neither DIRECTV nor Sinclair has any intention of allowing the disruption of their local stations. These are the same unnecessary threats, posing as warnings, that Sinclair has made to frighten customers of other pay TV providers. We will compensate Sinclair fairly, but our customers should not be forced to pay more than twice as much for the same programs that remain available completely free of charge over the air and online.”
Sinclair used its message to point out local alternatives that may be available to DirecTV subscribers in the event of an impasse, including “,,,your local cable provider, Dish Network, and in some markets either Verizon FiOS or AT&T U-verse, as well as over-the air.” It also suggested that its viewers call DirecTV and make their desire for continued Sinclair carriage known.