Broadcasters file emergency FCC petition over DirecTV retrans

DetailsMichelle Clancy | 14 June 2015

A group of small broadcasters in the US has filed an emergency petition with the FCC over an "unbridgeable chasm" in retransmission negotiations with DirecTV, threatening blackouts in various third-tier markets that include Yakima, Wash., Laredo, Texas and Binghamton, N.Y.

The group includes Northwest Broadcasting, Broadcasting Licenses, Mountain Licenses, Stainless Broadcasting, Eagle Creek Broadcasting of Laredo, Bristlecone Broadcasting and Blackhawk Broadcasting. They argue that DirecTV has shown no evidence that its pricing position for carriage is fair, and that it undervalues their content.

They told the FCC that they've shown their market data to DirecTV, but that DirecTV has refused to provide backup for its own position. That violates the definition of “good faith bargaining,” which requires that “both parties to the negotiation refrain from insisting on terms that are not consistent with competitive marketplace considerations."

It's gotten to the emergency stage, the broadcasters say, because they have been negotiating new deals since fall 2014, and multiple short extensions have left the expired deals on "life support."