Hill Pushes Talks About DirecTV, INSP TV Impasse

Family channel INSP TV and its absence from DirecTV became a topic of some conversation at the House Communications Subcommittee hearing on satellite legislation last week, with at least two legislators saying they wanted to get together with DirecTV to try to work it out.

DirecTV exec Mike Palkovic was a witness at the hearing and was asked by Rep. Renee Elmers (R-N.C.), who described herself as a mom and DirecTV customer, about dropping the channel. She said she had concerns about discrimination against independent networks.

Palkovic said that while DirecTV has to drop channels from time to time, in this case it was INSP which requested to be dropped after they could not reach agreement on new carriage terms similar to previous terms. "We deal with people fairly," he said.

He would not discuss those terms, but it appeared that INSP was looking for free carriage, rather than having to continue to pay for being on the satellite operator.

Palkovic said that DirecTV had lots of programming agreements, some in which it paid for content, some in which others paid. He said in this case, INSP TV did not want to continue "along the same or similar lines" so INSP took the channel down.

INSP insists on its Web site that it never wanted to go off DirecTV. It points out that DirecTV pays for some 90% of the nets it carries, and says many of those have "offensive and distasteful" programming.

Palkovic said DirecTV's door was always open to INSP, that DirecTV was a "huge proponent" of family-friendly programming, and that he would be willing to discuss the issue with Elmers, and with Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the subcommittee's ranking member, who said she wanted to be in on the discussions about resolving the issue, though she was quick to say those would offer up "suggestions" and not be not "negotiations."

INSP TV has hired a new head of programming as it moves into original fare, a move that could fuel its desire to get more buck, or at least not have pay for, its bang.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.