Sunbeam Goes Dark on DirecTV, Dish Could Be Next

Sunbeam Television stations in Boston and Miami went dark to DirecTV customers in those areas July 15 after the parties could not reach a retransmission consent agreement, the broadcaster said in a statement, adding that the same fate could hold for Dish Network customers in Boston later this week.

Sunbeam stations WHDH and WLVI (the Boston NBC and The CW affiliates, respectively) and WSVN (its Fox affiliate in Miami) went dark to DirecTV customers on July 15. DirecTV has said the stations are asking for exorbitant rate increases. Sunbeam claims it is only asking for fair market value for its content.

This isn’t the first go-round for DirecTV and Sunbeam. In 2012, the stations went dark to DirecTV customers for about 13 days.  

“We want to get these three stations back into our customers’ line-ups and share their frustration. The stations' owner, Sunbeam Television, is prohibiting WHDH and WLVI in Boston and WSVN in Miami from reaching their homes unless they receive a significant increase in their current fees just to let the same families keep watching shows that remain available for free over-the-air and often online,” DirecTV parent AT&T said in a statement. “Sunbeam has kept its stations from our customers several times before, so we appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to get them back and attempt to resolve this matter with the least possible inconvenience.” 

Comcast’s NBC Universal has said WHDH will lose its NBC affiliation at the end of the year. The station filed suit in March to try to block that move.  

In a brief statement on its Boston affiliate web site, Sunbeam notified DirecTV customers they could still access the channels over-the-air via an antenna or on other video providers. In the same statement, Sunbeam said Dish customers could suffer the same fate if a retrans deal isn’t reached by July 22.

In a statement, Dish said it hopes an agreement can be reached.

“Only Sunbeam Television Corporation can force a blackout of its channels,” Dish said in a statement. “Dish is actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires.”

“Dish has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers,” the satellite TV service provider continued. “We are unsure why Sunbeam decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point when there is still time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal.”