Fox on Sunday began warning viewers that DirecTV subscribers may be blacked out from its programming because the two companies have not yet been able to extend their distribution agreement, which expires Friday night (December 2).
“Despite our best efforts for months, we regret that DirecTV continues to demand unprecedented special treatment that represents a wholesale change to our long-standing relationship and is out of step with marketplace terms,” Fox said in a statement.
Fox said the agreement would affect the NFL, the World Cup, the Big Ten championship game and local programming, including news on Fox-owned TV stations.
In addition to the broadcast stations, FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, Fox Deportes and Fox Soccer Plus are covered by the expiring agreement. Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network will remain carried under a separate deal.
The current deal expires Friday at midnight Pacific time, which would be after the Pac-12 Conference Championship college football game.
DirecTV pointed the finger at Fox in a statement.
”At this point, any interruption of Fox programming depends solely on Fox alone,“ DirecTV said. ”DirecTV has no intention to remove any Fox content. The best way for everyone to ‘Keep Fox’ is for Fox to keep making it available themselves. We’re working hard to reach an agreement to renew these Fox stations and national sports channels so customers can continue to enjoy them at a strong value. Based on our excellent track record with Fox, we’re confident we’ll come to terms ahead of any potential disruption. In fact, we’ve renewed nearly 200 local Fox stations much like these over the last few years.”
The blackout would affect DirecTV satellite customers, DirecTV Stream viewers and subscribers to U-verse TV.
DirecTV noted that distribution disputes are not uncommon.
“Unfortunately, the same old, tired programmer scare tactics of putting customers into the middle of contract renewals tend to die hard. Fox invented this tactic back at the turn of the century, and has a long, long history of aggravating consumers to help try to boost their guaranteed rates, while most renewals are typically resolved without any interruptions. Just last month, Fox alerted Altice USA customers, only to settle without removing signals, while the same is true of other recent Fox renewals with Roku and the National Cable Television Cooperative, among others,” DirecTV said.
Fox said it remains committed to reaching a fair deal with DirecTV,
“Despite our best efforts for months, we regret that DirecTV continues to demand unprecedented special treatment that represents a wholesale change to our long-standing relationship and is out of step with marketplace terms,” Fox said. "While Fox continues to seek an agreement benefiting all parties, our priority is ensuring viewers’ ability to access all Fox Sports, Fox Entertainment and local Fox station programming.” ■
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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