WTHR-TV, DirecTV fail to reach fee agreement

 IBJ Staff
September 1, 2014
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WTHR-TV Channel 13 was no longer available to DirecTV customers on Monday after the Indianapolis station and the satellite-TV provider failed to reach an agreement in their ongoing dispute over fees.

"Although we have worked to try to negotiate with DirecTV for a fair deal for the carriage of WTHR, we have been unsuccessful and they have removed us from their system," WTHR said Monday in a message posted on its website.

The dispute involves payments the local NBC-TV affiliate receives from DirecTV for the right to broadcast its programming.

"WTHR is the most watched channel in central Indiana on DirecTV's system, yet DirecTV is only willing to pay less than half of what it pays other channels," WTHR said. "[Station owner Dispatch Broadcast Group] has successfully reached retransmission consent agreements with every other operator in the market, while DirecTV has been involved in multiple recent disputes with broadcasters and other programmers, some of which are still not carried today by DirecTV."

DirecTV said Columbus, Ohio-based Dispatch was asking too much for its programming and blamed it for the blackout.

"The station’s owner, Dispatch Video, is denying DirecTV permission to offer either WTHR or [Columbus-based] WBNS unless we commit our local customers to pay a more than 400-percent mark-up just to have the same NBC or CBS shows others can still get for free," DirecTV said in a prepared statement "We apologize for this inconvenience, no matter how brief, but your patience has a direct impact on your bill."

WTHR among more than 50 TV stations nationally that were no longer shown by DirecTV on Monday.

Montgomery, Ala.-based Raycom Media, which operates 53 stations mostly throughout the southeastern United States, failed to reach an agreement with DirectTV after three months of negotiations prior to Sunday's midnight deadline. Those stations were not being aired by DirectTV on Monday.

WTHR is available free over the air to viewers with digital antennas. It is also carried by Dish Network, Comcast, Bright House and AT&T U-verse.


  • Annoying!
    I really wish they would work it out, it's very annoying!
  • ugh
    All I have to say is find a way to make it work I have shows I want to watch when the premiere in a few weeks please and thank you
  • mad customers
    Its sad direct wants their money on time but cant provides us with the service that come with the service so i guess they are gonna lower everybody bill i thonk i will be switching
  • I'm confused
    If DTV has to pay for "free" tv channels locally then why is there a dispute over price? If it is free. Undoubtedly its not if DTV is paying for you to have it on your satellite programming. So who is the bad guy here DTV or the local station owners (big company like Raycom etc.) who is wanting the big fees for the programming that is supposed to be free?
  • cause and effect
    How about commenting on how many people will not be visiting local establishments such as buffalo wild wings and Scotty's to watch the game as they have direct tv as their service provider? Scotty, of Scotty's brewhouse, made the point that this will effect his business and his waiters pockets b/c his restaurant will be EMPTY tonight when they were all counting on this to be a big night for them. Restaurants like this count on football season to up their sales - they have specials designed just around this -- and waiters/waitresses may budget on the fact that tonight (and Sunday if this doesn't get fixed) would be a big night for them. It's just a huge ripple effect.
  • Dish doesn't manage it any better
    We switched from Dish to DirecTV two and a half years ago because Dish dropped both AMC and IFC over fees. Also, a quick check shows you that Dish Network is rated the worst customer service in America, so it's not likely that switching back to Dish is really much of an option.
  • Ask Direct Tv for 50 dollar antenna
    They gave me my antenna for free since I was a long term customer. they shipped it priority mail.... Do it today so you don't miss the fame. Amazon had them too. The AM21N.
    As much as I pay each month for Direct Tv and they are not supplying my local channels is a shame. When I signed up for Direct Tv service and paid an extra fee for local channels it wasn't so you could just drop a station when you decided they weren't paying you enough money. I will drop Direct Tv if NBC is back on soon.
  • Time to move on
    I am a new Direct TV customer. Upon signing on with Direct TV, I had Channel 13. I want it back or released from my two year contract.
  • WTHR
    While I understand that people are concerned about the season opener, I think we should all be concerned about things like the weather and other TV shows, like Ellen and The Voice. DirecTV has said in my contract that it would supply that coverage, and I think that it doesn't effect me, because I can get it for free with antenna. So, either WTHR needs to have another station play the games and TV shows, or a lot of customers will retreat from DirecTV, which is their loss.
  • So disappointed
    Please bring channel 13 back! I'm like another customer - if all of this continues, we will find a new satellite provider! I was guaranteed my local channels on my contract! Channel 13 is LOCAL. PLEASE get it back!
    So if I buy an antenna I will get my local WTHR 13 back and piggy back it on to my direct tv?
  • Get an antenna!
    I have DirecTV and I'm not going to drop it. I otherwise love it, but as a Packers fan I was in a panic over the Thursday night game on WTHR. So I went out to Amazon and bought an antenna for under $30. WOW!!!!! I was amazed. The picture almost seems BETTER than DirecTV. Bottom line: GET AN ANTENNA! It's cheap and it'll work for you until this gets sorted out. Then when the storms are bad enough for the satellite to go out, you can at least watch local on the antenna (I'm told it works fine in storms).
    • pk
      Direct tv should pay what they pay for other local stations. The public doesn't have that info so we can't make any sense out of this . I just want channel 13 back . Don't we all pay enough for satellite and cable already?
    • Switch to Dish
      This is at least the second time Direct TV has dropped a local station. Dish seems to be able to manage these relationships a lot better. If enough folks do this Direct TV will have to keep customer service a priority instead of their profit.
    • Sorry
      Sorry for your loss, Courtney.
    • loss of wthr
      I don't care what they have to do to get nbc back! It's only a five dollar increase on your bill!!! So get over it and come to an agreement already!! Why should I pay all this money for Sunday ticket if I can't even watch my own home town Colts games, not to mention nbc is the most watched station in our house!! It's ridiculous and unnecessary! If its not fixed by the start of football season this long term customer is going elsewhere!
      • Get an antenna
        You can get a HD antenna pretty much anywhere for about $20. It is a great investment as you can also pick up channels not on cable such as MeTV, AntennaTV, CoziTV, ThisTV, etc. Easy to tune in and you won't have to give up your local channels also.
      • No Colts game???
        If they don't get this resolved, I don't care whose fault it is, we will be changing providers immediately. This is a violation of your contract with direct TV. We will NOT miss the season opener.
      • Major Disapointment
        So so disapointed that we do not have NBC channel via Direct TV service - I guess its time to be thinking about changes internet provider NBC is one of my favoratie channels I watch a lot of NBC programs.
      • wthr needs payoff $$
        If WTHR doesn't collect enough money to pay their NBC overlords, they could easily lose their NBC affiliation. WISH tv would be glad to pick it up about now. Networks used to pay affiliates to carry them. It's the other way around now.
      • Too Far Away
        I wish I lived close enough to use a $10 antenna. The only way I can receive NBC programming is by satellite. Even streaming will not work as my internet is too slow. I also think WTHR's news broadcasts are way better than the others.
        Playing dirty pool at the start of Football season.
        • WTHR's fault
          Not a big fan of WTHR right now. Hate weather girl Angela. Do like Julia though.
        • Its Wthr who cares!!
          Other than the COLTS game coverage no one cares about wthr. That's why they waited until the week of the COLTS vs Denver game to do this because if they waited no one would care. CBS and FOX are much better!!
          • It's WTHR's fault...not DTV.
            Kathy -- DTV isn't "doing this", it's WTHR. WTHR sets the price they want DTV to pay for the right to retransmit the signal to DTV customers. The increase is something WTHR wants and at DTV doesnt want to pay. DTV should pay roughly what they pay for WISH/WRTV...It would be nice if the IBJ could confirm how those fees compare to what WTHR is looking for.
          • silly
            WTHR wants DirecTV to pay for its programming, which all of us within 40 miles of downtown Indy can get for free with a $10 antenna. I dropped cable a month ago and get all the channels I care about for $0. It was wonderful. This all about paying Buchman the big $ (awful what they did to Wright) and sending people to the Olympics every four years.
            • Please Research IBJ
              Perhaps IBJ could find time to comment on the impact this may have on upcoming NFL games. You know, given that that the NFL is the undisputed king of entertainment and that NBC is the host of not only the first game of the season in 2 days but also the Colts v. Broncos (you know that team who employs the guy who build Lucas Oil Stadium)in less than a week. Might want to add a paragraph or lead that explains if the hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers with DirectTv will be able to see their Colts play without rushing out to boy a $40 antenna.
              • Booo
                Who really cares. Seems like WTHR only cares about is the Colts game, so why do they show other shows on the channel.
              • DirecTV
                I think it is awful that the customers have to pay the price for DirecTV doing this. The local channels are suppose to be free and it isn't fair that we should have to have an increase to accommodate DirecTV. I watch WTHR every day and it is very upsetting that I can not watch it. I have called and complained to DireTV and the person I talked to said she didn't know what I was talking about. I hope they get this resolved and we get WTHR back without raising our rates
                • Who Cares
                  I don't watch NBC anyway. Leave it off and lower the price for direct TV

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                1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

                2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

                3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

                4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

                5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.