DirecTV, Sinclair Continue Retrans Talks

Feb. 28 Deadline Still Looms

DirecTV and Sinclair Broadcast Group are continuing to talk concerning retransmission consent agreements for stations in 47 markets across the country, but while both sides are hopeful a deal can be reached, there is a slight disconnect on how close they could be to an agreement.

Sinclair began informing customers earlier this month that its stations could go dark on DirecTV if a deal isn’t reached by Feb. 28.  DirecTV at the time accused the broadcaster of trying to scare its customers.

In a statement early Wednesday, DirecTV said it is continuing talks with Sinclair and was hopeful a deal could be reached by the Thursday deadline.

“We continue to make significant progress each day toward a new long-term programming relationship with Sinclair Broadcast Group,” DirecTV said in the statement. “This offers further assurance to our customers that there will be no interruption of their local programming. We also anticipate that, even in the most extreme case, Sinclair and DirecTV will agree to a brief extension beyond the initial Feb. 28 deadline to hammer out any final details.”

In an interview, Sinclair executive vice president and general counsel Barry Faber said the parties continued to talk, but he was giving no guarantees a deal could be reached.

“There are still significant open points between us,” Faber said. “We’re still talking and the gap has narrowed. I hope we will be able to reach an agreement by midnight tomorrow but I really don’t have a prediction right now.”

Faber said that no formal extension has been made and no agreement has yet been reached. He added that Sinclair would not need a signed agreement in hand to grant an extension, but it would at least have had to “reach agreement on all the terms we are discussing, which as of right now we have not reached agreement on.”

About 87 Sinclair stations in 47 markets like Baltimore, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City are up for renewal on Feb. 28. The stations include affiliates of all four major broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.