Sinclair Broadcast Group, the parent company to 13WHAM, are in negotiations for a new contract, which will ultimately determine if, at 12:01 a.m. on March 1st 2013, if some of the top shows on TV like March Madness, CSI and American Idol, will make it to the TV sets of DirecTV subscribers. Naturally, money is one of the major determining factors that will either see this deal move along, or if DirecTV’s 13WHAM-TV signal, and others, will go black.
“What has happened is programming is costing more,” Barry Faber, Attorney for Sinclair Broadcast Group said. “Programming costs are going up in huge, huge amounts. And for us and our stations to provide this programming is costing more.”
Sinclair has negotiated hundreds of deals with many DirecTV competitors including the Dish Network over the past year and a half. Deals, DirecTV says are a result of threats and warnings posed by Sinclair unnecessarily, to create fear of loss in customers of the other pay TV networks. Sinclair is suggesting that customers call DirecTV to let DirecTV know they intend to switch providers if the deal doesn’t happen.
13WHAM-TV reminds viewers, “remember you can watch our signal free over the air and it’s also available from Dish Network and your local cable company.” More than just 13WHAM-TV, DirecTV subscribers see a potential loss of 87 local stations in markets such as Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Nashville, Austin, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Minneapolis, San Antonio and others totalling 47 markets.
Using fear to their advantage
While there are two ways to look at it, many feel that Sinclair, as they and other broadcast and cable networks have done in the past, are using scare tactics to pull more money from the pending contract.
Sinclair has leveraged broadcasts to alert DirecTV customers of the possible loss of Sinclair’s 87 stations. The crawl text on the bottom of viewers TV screens said “Attention DirecTV Customers. Beginning on March 1, 2013 we no longer expect this station to be carried by DirecTV,” and even brought to their attention that Dish Network isn’t affected and that people should either call DirecTV at the provided number or seek alternatives. Similar warnings were spread through Sinclair’s social media channels on the Internet and in articles posted to their station’s web sites.
The Sinclair vs. DirecTV debate, it might be argued is standard business. A company naturally wants to spend only what they have to, and earn as much as they are able. It’s part of doing business. Historically, unless heals are dug in too deep, in these types of debates, last minute deals are usually made, because in general, the relationship is important to both parties. Perhaps it’s part of their game, and the big players sit down to dinner the day after the contracts are signed. Or perhaps, this type of Tom Foolery promotes more the options of streaming VOD and free-antenna HDTV.
Category: Cable and Satellite