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White: DirecTV Will Fight the Good Fight

With the ink barely dry on its recent carriage deal with Viacom, DirecTV CEO Mike White told analysts Thursday that the satellite TV giant will continue to fight off exorbitant programming rate increases, adding that more distributors should be sensitive to their customers' economic plight.
Speaking on a conference call with analysts to discuss second quarter results, White said that although its Viacom carriage battle had its contentious moments, both sides walked away with a deal that was fair. But he added that programmers and distributors alike need to be more sensitive to their customers' economic situations
"We felt it was very important to stand up for the customer," White said. "I continue to believe that all of us in this industry, both on the media side and the distributor side, need to spend a little more time in the customers' homes, and understanding what's happening with their incomes in this economy. The customer in the end is the one getting squeezed and bearing the brunt of these exorbitant price increase demands that are just not sustainable. We're going to continue to stand up and put the customer first."
White said that DirecTV's next big programming renewal is with CBS, which in the past has been aggressive in getting big increases for its owned and operated stations. The DirecTV chief would not get into specific about the negotiations, but said he was hopeful a deal can be reached.
"I am very optimistic that will be wrapped up and we won't have any significant issues on that one," White said.
Still, the CEO added DirecTV has retransmission consent deals coming do all the time and will be faced with decision on whether to carry some new sports networks as they are launched.
Time Warner Cable is scheduled to launch its Time Warner Cable Sports Net regional sports network in October and the Pac-12 Networks are gearing up for a mid-August laiunch.
While he did not name names, White said that DirecTV may not carry all of the new sports channels that are coming on board.
"Sports is an important part of DirecTV, but frankly we have to be disciplined in that area too, just like we are on the entertainment side," White said. "We've had some conversations. We've got a couple of those decisions to make. We probably can't afford to do everything that everybody would like us to do in sports. We will be disciplined."