Sunbeam channels blacked out of AT&T owned DirecTV in Miami and Boston on July 15, when the two sides failed to come in agreement on the new broadcast retransmission licensing. Fox affiliate WSVN-TV, CW affiliate WLVI, and NBC affiliate WHDH-TV were the channels that went down on all the DirecTV packages.
Speaking on the matter, WHDH general manager Paul said, “Unfortunately, negotiations were not successful.” However, Kate MacKinnon, AT&T spokeswoman said that, “Sunbeam is demanding a significant increase in their current fees just to let these same families keep watching shows that remain available for free over-the-air on channels 7 and 56 and often online at NBC.com and CWTV.com.”
“Sunbeam has temporarily suspended its stations from our customers several times before, so we appreciate their patience as we work to resolve this matter quickly, reasonably, and with the least possible inconvenience,” MacKinnon added.
DirecTV is also out of three ABC affiliates in North Dakota for over a month. Earlier, the channels KBMY-TV in Bismarck, WDAZ-TV in Grand Forks, and WDAY-TV in Fargo, blacked out when their owner Forum Communications pulled their signals from DirecTV. This was also because the companies could not come to terms on the carriage fees.
Sunbeam and DirecTV had similar dispute in 2012, which led to the suspension of the Sunbeam channels on DirecTV for around 15 days. However, this time, DirecTV complained that Sunbeam is demanding for 300 percent increase in retransmission consent fees.
Sunbeam is already in a fight with Comcast/NBC Universal, as Comcast has decided not to renew its NBC Network affiliation agreement. Sunbeam and its owner Ed Ansin fought against the decision, but lost in court.
Sunbeam also said that Dish Network customers would be facing the same problem if the retransmission deal were not settled by July 29. In reply to that, Dish representatives stated that, “Only Sunbeam Television Corporation can force a blackout of its channels. Dish is actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires.”
“Dish has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers. We are unsure why Sunbeam decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point when there is still time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal,” the satellite TV provider added.
Sunbeam in its earlier statement said that the deal with Dish Network expired last week, but they have extended their retransmission consent agreement for another week to settle the matter. It is not sure whether the Miami stations are included in the discussions.