FOX signal still absent from satellite service as Super Bowl nears

A month-long standoff between DirecTV and Northwest Broadcasting Co., continues even as Super Bowl XLV looms this weekend.

The impasse has left most DirecTV customers in Southern Oregon, Northern California, parts of eastern Washington and upstate New York without FOX network programming since the carriage agreement between the television stations' owner and the satellite television operator expired at the end of 2010.

About 30,000 DirecTV customers in the region served by KMVU in Medford have resorted to rabbit ears antennas or other means to follow NFL playoff games, American Idol and other FOX programming during the interlude. Some have obtained distant network signal, but many aren't eligible for the alternate transmission.

DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer said the satellite company has called for Northwest Broadcasting stations to restore the signal that went blank a month ago.

"We believe we can make some excellent progress on getting this deal done if Northwest agrees to put the channels back on and let an independent, third-party arbitrator decide this matter," Mercer said. "This solution will end consumer disruption and allow for an unbiased professional to decide the value of their channels. "

He said DirecTV has closed deals with about one station group per week since the end of November.

"That's eight station groups across the country — small, medium and large — representing 73 markets and more than 92 channels," he said. "Northwest, on the other hand, is doing everything in their power to keep the channels off the air to gain leverage in negotiations."

Jon Rand, Northwest Broadcasting's chief operating officer, said Friday that DirecTV made no counter offer after rejecting the station group's proposal 10 days ago.

"Nor have they made any offer since," Rand said.

Rand and Northwest Broadcasting Chief Executive Officer Brian Brady are scheduled to meet with members of Congress during a trip to Washington, D.C., this week.

"It seems that this may take a turn toward Washington in order to draw some attention to the plight of the DirecTV customers who have been disenfranchised," Rand said.

— Greg Stiles

Share This Story