Spotted: A small number of DirecTV customers could lose ABC and CBS if the companies don’t sign a new contract by March 31.
While this only affects DirecTV customers in Des Moines and Davenport, Iowa, publicizing such disputes is becoming more common and could impact paid-TV service nationwide, including in Orange County.
Local ABC and CBS affiliates apparently could yank the broadcasts if an agreement isn’t reached. Says Derek Chang, executive vice president of Programming for DIRECTV:
“DIRECTV’s contract with the Citadel-owned ABC station in Des Moines, Iowa, and the CBS station in Davenport, Iowa, is expiring on March 31. We have been negotiating in good faith to try and reach a resolution and will continue to do so. If an agreement is not reached by the deadline, we intend to continue to provide the stations as we have for many years, unless Citadel demands that we take them away from our customers. If the stations come down after the deadline, make no mistake, it will be solely and completely the station owner’s (Citadel’s) decision to take the channels away from our customers.”
While this doesn’t affect Orange County customers directly, it is a trend reverberating throughout the paid-TV industry. Channels that cable and satellite companies didn’t pay for previously are now asking for a per-subscriber fee.
TV viewers also wind up in the middle as each side attempts to win their sympathy by saying the other side wants to pull the channels. This happened here in Orange County over New Years Eve, when Time Warner Cable customers thought they would lose Fox and its collection of TV shows and sporting events. We never lost Fox but on the East Coast, Cablevision customers temporarily lost access to the Oscars when ABC and the cable provider failed to come to an agreement.
While the final agreements are never made public, the possibility that ABC and Fox are now collecting money from previously nonpaying customers is just too tempting a revenue source for other broadcast channels to overlook.
I suspect we’ll continue to see more public disputes, including several that will impact channels here in Orange County.