DirecTV said Northwest Broadcasting has pulled the signals for five stations in four states in a retransmission-consent dispute.
The No. 1 DBS provider said Northwest was attempting to "extort" a more than 600% increase for its stations in Binghamton, N.Y., Medford, Ore., Yakima and Spokane, Wash. and Laredo, Texas. The contract expired Jan. 1 at midnight (PT).
"We are appalled by the irresponsible behavior of Northwest Broadcasting, which has decided they would rather deprive our customers of their local channels, than make even an honest and good faith attempt to reach a fair deal in contract negotiations," said DirecTV Chairman, CEO and president Mike White in a statement. "For local broadcast station owners to brazenly hold viewers hostage in an attempt to extort fees that are astronomically higher than what we pay other local broadcasters is flat out wrong. We hope that Northwest will ultimately come to the table in good faith to discuss reasonable terms and fees and they will quickly restore programming to our customers."
At press time early Saturday that impasse appeared to continue, with one of the Northwest stations, Fox affiliate KAYU-TV Spokane, displaying an online alert telling viewers they could watch over the air
DirecTV said it agreed to pay Northwest a fair market price increase that was consistent with fees it negotiated in other recently concluded contract talks for local broadcast channels. In recent weeks, the DBS provider has reached retransmission-consent agreements with Hearst, Gannett, Granite, Red River Broadcasting, KLAS-TV and Sarkes-Tarzian.
Elsewhere, DirecTV and Golf Channel continue to negotiate a carriage renewal deal. Their contract also expired with the new year.