AT&T's DirecTV wins retransmission consent ruling against local TV broadcasters

The FCC said it rejected a complaint against AT&T's DirecTV by a handful of local TV broadcasters centering on a dispute over retransmission fees. "We cannot conclude that DirecTV's conduct violated the good faith negotiation requirements," the FCC said in its recent ruling on the matter.

The disagreement between DirecTV and seven local TV broadcasters -- including Northwest Broadcasting, Mountain Licenses, Stainless Broadcasting, Eagle Creek Broadcasting of Laredo and others -- can be traced back to last year, when DirecTV's retransmission agreement with the broadcasters expired. According to the companies' filings with the FCC, DirecTV and the broadcasters attempted several times to reach an agreement but couldn't. As part of their negotiations, the TV broadcasters (which collectively filed a complaint with the FCC under the name "Northwest") said DirecTV should provide the financial details of its other retransmission contracts. When DirecTV refused, the broadcasters filed a complaint with the FCC in September.

"We do not find that Northwest has demonstrated that DirecTV's conduct violated the Commission's requirement that retransmission consent negotiations be conducted in an atmosphere of honesty, purpose, and clarity of process," the FCC said in rejecting Northwest's complaint. Release (PDF)