DirecTV cable customers in the Sacramento region will still not be able to access KCRA and its sister channels. Reports indicate that the blackout of these channels is due to the dispute between Hearst Television and DirecTV, over transmission fees. The previous contract between Hearst Television and DirecTV expired at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 01, 2017, following which, KCRA and other channels were blacked out on DirecTV in 28 cities across the United States.
In a recent statement, Hearst said that DirecTV was looking to negotiate a new agreement with them at “below market rates.” On the other hand, DirecTV’s parent company, AT&T, argued that Hearst was looking to acquire “a significant increase in fees just to allow those same families to watch shows available for free over-the-air and that the broadcast networks typically make available for free online and through new digital apps.”
According to media analyst Jan Dawson, the dispute between the two parties gives us an insight on how TV broadcasters are viewing the transmission fees. Most of the stations were content with the little amount delivered by pay-TV providers until a few years ago. Dawson adds that the stations have now realized that “they’re very valuable as part of the channel lineup. These companies clearly want new revenue streams.”
He also says that a few years ago, the amount paid to the stations was actually less than 10 percent of the broadcasters’ revenues. However, the fees paid by some providers currently are a lot more than 30 percent of the total revenue.
Reports indicate that the dispute between DirecTV and Hearst Television will affect approximately 16 percent of the total households in the four-county Sacramento region. The dispute will cover KCRA’s flagship station, Channel 3, and KQCA My58. In addition to that, DirecTV subscribers in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Boston areas will also be affected by this dispute.
Dawson believes that these types of disputes usually end quickly, as subscribers pressurize the providers to reach a settlement with the network, so that they can continue to access their channels. It is to be noted that Cox Media Group stations were also recently blacked out on DirecTV for similar reasons, but the provider reached a new deal with the other party in a matter of few hours.