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DirecTV Fires Salvo in Simmering Retrans Dispute

EL SEGUNDO, CALIF.: Satellite TV purveyor DirecTV has let it be known that retransmission negotiations are at a stand-still with an ABC affiliate in Nebraska, KLKN-TV. Derek Chang, DirecTV executive vice president of programming, released this statement late Wednesday:

“DirecTV’s contract with the Citadel-owned ABC station in Lincoln, Neb., is expiring on March 31. We have been negotiating in good faith to try and reach a resolution and will continue to do so. If an agreement is not reached by the deadline, we intend to continue to provide the station as we have for many years, unless Citadel demands that we take it away from our customers. If the station comes down after the deadline, customers can tune to an alternative ABC station--KHGI, Ch. 13--but make no mistake, it will be solely and completely the station owner’s--Citadel’s--decision to take the station away from our customers.”

KLKN, for it’s part, has posted a special notice for DirecTV subscribers on its Web site from senior vice president and general manager, Roger Mooday, and director of broadcast operations, Jeff Swanson:

“The carriage agreement which allows Channl 8 KLKN-TV to be retransmitted by DirecTV is set to expire at midnight on Wednesday, March 31. Regrettably, our negotiations with DirecTV have reached a point where it appears unlikely that a new agreement will be reached.

“It is our sincere belief that the approach we’ve taken to these business discussions with DirecTV has been quite reasonable. We have sought to retain terms and carriage conditions commonly found in similar agreements successfully negotiated and currently in place with dozens of other cable and satellite providers. We are also asking DirecTV to compensate us fairly for the right to ‘re-sell’ our programming. Importantly, our request is a fraction of what DirecTV is paying other program providers who don't have local ties to our community, and whose ratings are a fraction of Ch. 8 KLKN-TV’s.”

The note goes on to say that KLKN’s been removed from a pay provider just once in 10 years, and that negotiations would continue through March 31. Several popular ABC shows are listed--“Lost,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Modern Family,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” with the suggestion that DirecTV subscribers send the satellite provider the message, “love my shows, lose my business.”
-- Deborah D. McAdams