DirecTV accused of discriminatory tactics by Heartland Media


DirecTV is currently embroiled in a channel blackout amid a retransmission dispute with Heartland Media, and the broadcaster is accusing DirecTV of using its size to push discriminatory tactics in negotiations.

“The merger of AT&T and DIRECTV last year created a $250 billion company. Those that opposed the merger were concerned it would create such a behemoth that it would try and crush small broadcasters. AT&T/DIRECTV has proven those concerns to be valid,” Heartland Media wrote in an update.

“Heartland LLC and USA Television LLC with only five stations is a victim of AT&T/DIRECTV's discriminatory tactics and bad faith bargaining,” Heartland added. “The principal owner of Heartland has been in the broadcast business for over 25 years and has never previously experienced a service disruption.”

Heartland said that DirecTV has admitted its only reason for rejecting the broadcaster’s most recent proposal is the size of the broadcast group and that the satellite provider acknowledged that it’s already paying lesser-rated stations in the same markets significantly more in fees than Heartland is requesting.

AT&T/DirecTV did not immediate respond to FierceCable’s request for comment.

DirecTV’s current dispute with Heartland boiled over into a channel blackout on Aug. 11 after the companies’ previous agreement expired.

“For some reason, DirecTV has not been willing to negotiate appropriate market value retransmission compensation that other distributors are paying for WKTV’s content,” said Heartland in a statement. “Primarily, Heartland Media and DirecTV disagree on the value of WKTV’s programming and content. DirecTV resells this same content to you, the subscriber, yet refuses to compensate at a fair market value the highly rated and award-winning programming that WKTV produces every day for its viewers.”

"We want to get the Heartland and USA Television stations back into our customers’ line-ups and share their frustration. The stations’ owners are prohibiting their signals from reaching their homes unless they receive a significant increase in their current fees just to let the same families keep watching shows that remain available for free over-the-air and often online," said DirecTV in a statement.

The affected stations include three Oregon-based ABC affiliates, CBS and NBC stations in Utica, New York and NBC and Fox stations in Tupelo, Mississippi.

The current dustup with Heartland comes after DirecTV recently settled a retransmission impasse with Sunbeam in Miami and Boston.

For more:
- read this Heartland Media update

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DirecTV blacked out by Sunbeam stations in Boston and Miami