WTHR-TV, DirecTV fail to reach fee agreement

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.

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