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DirecTV-Citadel TV Station Retransmission Stand-off Continues

QUAD CITIES, IOWA and ILL.: A retransmission dispute between DirecTV and TV stations owned by Citadel Communications is coming down to the wire. WHBF-TV, the CBS affiliate serving four cities along the Iowa-Illinois border, is warning DirecTV subscribers that it may be dropped from the satellite provider’s line-up just as the network prepares to cover the NCAA Final Four starting April 3.

“Our existing carriage agreement with DirecTV expires at 12 midnight, March 31, 2010, and in the absence of renewal of that agreement, DirecTV will terminate carriage of CBS4,” WHBF’s Marshall Porter and J.D. Walls state on station’s Web site.

DirecTV took it to the streets last week over Citadel’s ABC affiliate in Nebraska, KLKN-TV.

“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,” DirecTV spokesman Derek Chang said in a statement.

WHBF’s Porter and Walls are going for underdog appeal in its viewer caveat:
“DirecTV is the nation’s second largest multichannel media distributor with substantial market power and financial and political resources. Our company, Citadel Communications Co., on the other hand, is a small, privately held company with four TV stations in the Midwest. We fully expect DirecTV to engage in a massive public and government relations campaign to apply pressure on our small company to enter into an agreement that is favorable to DirecTV, but which would disadvantage our company and the local viewers we serve.”

Marshall and Porter said they submitted WHBF’s initial retransmission proposal to DirecTV “more than five weeks ago, and have been in negotiations ever since.”

March 25, 2010: DirecTV Fires Salvo in Simmering Retrans Dispute
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.