WTVC, DirecTV expected to keep talks going

WTVC, DirecTV expected to keep talks going

February 28th, 2013 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

WTVC - News Channel 9 in Chattanooga

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

The owner of WTVC-News Channel 9 and DirecTV are working on a brief extension to permit the station to remain in the satellite company's lineup if they don't settle a contract dispute by today.

DirecTV spokesman Thomas Tyrer said Wednesday the parties continue to make progress toward a long-term programming relationship with WTVC owner Sinclair Broadcast Group.

"This offers further assurance to our customers that there will be no interruption of their local programming," he said in an email. "We also anticipate that, even in the most extreme case, Sinclair and DirecTV will agree to a brief extension beyond the initial Feb. 28 deadline to hammer out any final details."

Sinclair has warned DirecTV customers that its 87 stations in 47 markets, including Chattanooga, could go dark unless a new agreement is reached.

Mike Costa, WTVC's general manager, declined to comment Wednesday.

But in a statement on its website, the ABC affiliate in Chattanooga cited the potential that the negotiations with DirecTV may not succeed.

"We would not characterize this as Sinclair 'pulling its stations' or DirecTV 'refusing to carry' Sinclair's stations," the statement said. "This is simply the case of a buyer and a seller being unable to agree on price, something that occurs every day in both commercial and consumer transactions."

Cable and satellite companies negotiate with the owners of TV stations for the right to carry those stations on their systems.

The statement said local TV stations pay millions of dollars each year to buy high-quality programming.

"It is just standard business practice that the satellite companies should pay for the right to resell programming to their subscribers," it said.

Sinclair in April 2012 completed a $385 million purchase of the broadcast assets of Freedom Communications, including WTVC.

The Baltimore-based media company owns and operates, programs or provides sales services to 87 television stations in 47 markets.