Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Battle of the Broadcasters--Just in Time for the Superbowl

Updated 2/2/11 at 5:24 P.M., PST
KAYU and DIRECTV have come to some sort of agreement in time for the Superbowl this Sunday.
You can view DIRECTV's Facebook press release here or KAYU's letter to DIRECTV here.
By no means is the saga over. This is a temporary retransmission agreement between the two parties. It's scheduled to last four weeks, while the two continue to haggle over the fee for retransmission.
KAYU stated in their letter that they're asking DIRECTV for less than three cents per subscriber.
“DIRECTV has been unable to renew our agreement with this broadcast station, and the station has forced us to take it down,” the message said on the big screen. My husband pressed the keys 2-8 on the remote. “Isn’t this a local channel? Why aren’t we getting anything?”
Why not, indeed. When we signed up with DIRECTV in August of 2009, we understood that we would receive local channels and have more variety of subscription channels. DIRECTV made good on their end, if by “variety” you mean “shopping.”
But what’s all the hullaballoo? And why can’t we watch the Seahawks from the comfort of our living room?
What I understand is this: DIRECTV needs retransmission consent from KAYU. Northwest Broadcasting (NWB), the company transmitting, claims that DIRECTV charges around $5 per bill for local channels and that they are asking for a fraction of that amount.
The press release issued by NWB has jargon that I don’t understand. It sounds as though NWB wants to be paid as much as everyone else. They claim DIRECTV has told them that no one gets paid more than their offer, and now NWB wants an audit.
“I am confident that the viewers with whom I have spoken have done their homework and understand what is going on. When they realize that we have conditionally agreed to DIRECTV's numbers subject to independent verification and when DIRECTV does not accept that offer, they will know who the bad actor is in all of this” said Brian Brady, CEO in a NWB press release.
Of course, DIRECTV has taken the opposite stance, villanizing NWB. They claim that they were able to renegotiate six retransmission deals with other broadcasters and that NWB is attempting to “extort” them.
Mike White, CEO said in a DIRECTV press release that NWB wants a 600 percent price increase. He wanted the broadcasting company to continue service to his customers. “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.”
Then to wrap up the press release, DIRECTV says they will inform the FCC later in the year of Northwest’s behavior.
You know what this sounds like to me, a journalism student (and parent of four)?
They sound like a couple preteen girls on the playground who can’t seem to agree on what to play. So they’re tattling to their friends or to the teacher when it doesn’t go their way.
Neither side has given us actual numbers. Had NWB agreed to receive $1 for every 1000 viewers and now they’re asking for $6? Was it $1,000 for every 1000 and now NWB is asking for $6,000? No one is saying. How do we know what’s fair? How do we judge the market?
Here’s the deal—do the viewers care who is wrong and who is right? No, we don’t even know the details. We’re like mushrooms out here—kept in the dark and fed a bunch of poop.
I have a solution: a digital antenna. DIRECTV agreed that I would have my local channels. So if they sent me a digital antenna, I would have my local channels.
I don’t want them to install it though. The last time they installed anything, they mangled the box on the side of the house. I thought it was Davis Communications and made a very angry phone call to them.
Now that I see examples of customer service on DIRECTV’s Facebook page, there’s no doubt that it was the installer. It makes my neighbor’s double dishes on her roof seem like par for the course: a definite lack of customer care.
So if I don’t get KAYU in time for the Superbowl, the solution is easy. I have lots of friends and invitations to the game. However, when my contract is up in August, I may find myself crawling back to Davis Communications, begging for forgiveness.
Please, take me back. It wasn’t you—it was me!
Mad as heck? Comment below and complain to DIRECTV or Northwest Broadcasting Inc.


  1. ...and I think these preteen girls have scratches on them too! They need to learn to play nice.
    You might look into Dish - for the channels we watch, it was cheaper then DIRECTV, although we have had our challenges with reception at times.
    Good luck!

  2. Having Davis Communication, though a little expensive, has become a real advantage, on Super Bowl Sunday it may even make me popular. But the real heart of this story is the greed, who is going to get the lions share of the cash. It seems that neither side is happy with its overwhelming profit margin and needs to find a way to remove more from the ever shrinking pocket books of its customers.

  3. Thats why your coming to my house for the superbowl! But I think your a smart lady to not give them any of your business... if it were me...( I'm a portagee the latin blood in me seems to need more justice...)lol I would see if you can get out of your contract earlier because of it and go somewhere else that will give you what was stated in the original contract. It is so similar to my husband's work... they hold him to all the rules and regulations, but when they make him come in early (which is not in the contract and they can't legally do) they think it's fine and you shouldn't be upset about it... in fact if you say anything about it, they may just can you... (which in your case it would be good if they canned you.) Bleh I am not a fan of big companies who don't value their customers and their employees.

  4. Have you looked into Dish network I hear they are good and they have great deals going on right now too. They also have all the local channels. Just a suggestion. Davis communications is really expensive and I've had bad experiences with them too.

  5. I switched to DISH when DIRECTV got in their girly fights with Versus and I lost my bull riding shows! I'm happy with DISH and have no complaints. There is something about companies not living up to their contracts and not fulfilling their end of the bargain that may get you out of your contract with them if you wanted to switch.

  6. In a note from DIRECTV, received today:

    "Because you received DIRECTV equipment at a discounted price, you agreed to subscribe to up to 24 consecutive months of DIRECTV programming. This agreement does not guarantee that pricing and programming will not change."

    Hmm... their representative who sold us on the idea claimed that we would have our locals.

    One of the problems I have with switching is that I don't want a bunch of dishes in my yard. (I have enough of those problems inside the house.) But the more I interact with the company, the more disillusioned I become.

    I wonder what I can do about this? Thoughts?