Still going: DirecTV, KTTW dispute nears one month

Feb. 4, 2019

DirecTV subscribers are still waiting for Fox affiliate KTTW to come back on the air.

The Sioux Falls locally owned television station is locked in a dispute with the satellite provider over its retransmission agreement.

The agreement expired at the end of 2018 and was extended until 5 p.m. Jan. 7. Since then, KTTW has not provided programming to DirecTV.

“Although there have been periods of time where negotiations were at a standstill, we are communicating and negotiating on a regular basis at this time,” KTTW general manager Ed Hoffman said.

“There is nothing we want more than for this to come to a resolution that both DirecTV and KTTW FOX 7 can be happy with and that makes sense for both parties. We obviously have no desire to hold back our programming from the viewers, but we have to ensure the agreement allows us to do so in a manner that is beneficial to both parties.”

A message broadcast on DirecTV leads subscribers to a website that encourages them to use a digital antenna or stream programming on FOX.com until the dispute is resolved.

“We want to get KTTW back into your lineup as soon as possible, but by law its owner, Independent Communications, has exclusive control over that. We share your frustration, as Independent is blocking KTTW until it receives a substantial fee increase,” it said.

“We continue to ask Independent to allow you to watch while we work this matter out privately. We need Independent’s permission to bring KTTW back. We will even agree to pay Independent any new rates we eventually agree upon if they keep KTTW available during whatever time it takes for us to work out our new agreement. Independent has disconnected its most loyal viewers here in Sioux Falls before, while we strive to deliver the content you want at a value that makes sense to you.”

According to DirecTV, there were approximately 165 blackouts in 2018, after setting an all-time high of more than 210 blackouts in over 120 cities the prior year, causing more than 21 million American homes at least some temporary disruption. There have already been more than 25 blackouts in the first few weeks of 2019.

KTTW is negotiating solo, without the leverage of being part of a larger group of broadcasters.

“It is difficult for small, family-owned stations to negotiate with DirecTV, which is owned by AT&T,” Hoffman said.

“I know a lot has been made of in regards to the fees paid to us, but there are also many legal issues within the contracts that we need to consider based on our network agreement and other programming providers.”

While one month is longer than many contractual disputes last, Hoffman said some blackouts have gone on for months. His advertisers, who also aren’t able to reach DirecTV subscribers, have been “extremely supportive,” he said.

“I just want the viewers to know we are doing everything we can to resolve this issue. I also want to apologize on our behalf for the inconvenience it has and is causing. We want to be able to continue to bring you the best in sports and entertainment programming.”

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Still going: DirecTV, KTTW dispute nears one month

DirecTV subscribers are still waiting for Fox affiliate KTTW to come back on the air.

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