Finance firms slammed for Tribune disappearing from DirecTV in retrans row

Editor ©RapidTVNews | 03-04-2012

Hedge funds and investment bank creditors have been blamed by US satellite firm DirecTV for the removal from its line-up of 23 local TV stations in 19 markets from Tribune Broadcasting.
In the latest development of yet another retrans row in the US, the satellite firm has filed a complaint with the US regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking “an immediate intervention and expedited ruling” against the financially troubled, in fact technically bankrupt, Tribune for failing to negotiate in good faith and bringing into question whether broadcast licenses have been prematurely, and inappropriately, transferred to bankruptcy creditors.”

That is to say, DirectTV believes that the array of hedge funs and investment banks who effectively run Tribune overruled the directors with whom DirectTV had reportedly reached a verbal agreement in principle for retransmission consent compensation.
With some delicious irony, the company who boasts 32 million customers in the US and Latin America has slammed the financial firms’ actions as “another case of runaway Wall Street greed” and named and shamed hedge funds and investment banks, including Oaktree Partners, Angelo Gordon, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citibank, asserting that they had “forced Tribune’s senior management to renege on an agreement that would have kept DirecTV customers connected to their local programming. Their actions represent a brazen attempt to extract yet another bailout on the backs of innocent viewers.”

The complaint to the FCC is based on the fact that such organisations lack the authority to make such decisions regarding broadcast licenses and operations. It “Two days prior to expiration of the existing carriage arrangement, the parties reached an agreement in principle for continued carriage…following day, however, Tribune reneged on that agreement. Tribune later confirmed that its management had been overruled by the hedge fund and investment bank creditors. “DirecTV negotiated with Tribune for months, only learning on the very eve of expiration that it had never been dealing with anyone who had the authority required under the [FCC] rules. Indeed, DirecTV still does not know with whom it should be speaking – Tribune’s CEO or its associated hedge funds and investment banks…The result is millions of everyday viewers are forced to suffer with the mess Tribune made of its operations leading into bankruptcy, and to make matters worse, now allowing America’s wealthiest hedge funds and investment banks to take advantage of innocent viewers.”