DirecTV subscribers in South Florida may soon be missing four channels from their satellite service if DirecTV’s dispute with Sinclair Broadcast Group is not resolved by tomorrow.
Photographer: AP GraphicsBank
Copyright Associated Press
The dispute between DirecTV and Fox over programming fees has taken on the heavy-handed rhetoric of a labor strike with South Florida sports fans and millions of satellite TV viewers nationwide caught in the crossfire.
DirecTV has threatened to drop several prominent Fox cable networks and 19 regional sports channels if an agreement isn't reached by Nov. 1, affecting most of its 19.5 million viewers. In South Florida, that includes Fox Sports Florida and Sun Sports, which broadcast Marlins, Heat, Panthers and Rays games as well as coverage of the state's major college teams.
Sun Sports airs ACC and SEC football games on Saturdays, including the University of Miami's homecoming game on Nov. 5. It also shows replays of Florida and Florida State games on Sundays. FSF features live game coverage of major conferences such as the Big 12 and Pac-12. The two regional networks are scheduled to begin showing Gators and Seminoles basketball next month, and also carry women's soccer and volleyball.
The dispute over carriage fees is similar to one a year ago between Fox and Dish network that kept FSF, Sun Sports, FX and National Geographic off the satellite system for a month. After considerable public posturing, the two sides reached an agreement just in time for the opening of the Miami Heat's first season with the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
News Corp., parent of Fox, has taken out newspaper ads warning DirectTV subscribers that many of their favorite teams and sports programs are in jeopardy of disappearing from their dish.
The standoff took a bizarre twist this week when Kurt Sutter, creator of the FX series "Sons of Anarchy," posted a profanity-laced diatribe against DirecTV on his blog along with an expletive on a photo of the company's blimp.
FX, which also airs "American Horror Story" and "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia," is one of the Fox networks that would be dropped from DirecTV systems. Also affected are National Geographic Channel, Fuel TV, Speed, Fox Soccer, Fox Movie Channel and Fox Deportes.
Fox News Channel is part of a separate agreement and would not be dropped.
DirecTV contends that Fox is seeking a 40 percent increase in carriage fees from the previous contract which expired Sept. 30.
Fox, in an official statement, says: "That's just not true. We have proposed to keep Fox Networks on DirecTV for the same price, and on the same terms as they are currently carried while we attempt to work out a fair agreement. Unfortunately, DirecTV has decided unless they get their way, they are going to pull your favorite networks, shows and sports programming."
Sutter is incensed that viewers may be deprived of this season's final five episodes of "Sons of Anarchy," which he expressed in an impassioned 15-second spot during the program Tuesday night. He followed that with his blog post contending that the video rant was censored by the network's legal team and unloaded on DirecTV in more graphic terms. Amid the expletives, he accused DirecTV of cheating customers "that already pay a lot of money for their service."
DirecTV Director of Public Relations Robert G. Mercer said: "We hope to resolve the situation before any action is taken, but we'll do what's necessary to protect our customers from excessive and unwarranted fee increases. We already pay News Corp. nearly a billion dollars a year for their channels and we have no problem continuing to compensate them fairly and paying no more than what other TV providers pay."
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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