DirecTV and Raycom settle retrans fight, exchange nasty words

In the end, nobody in the Midwest or South missed NFL football Sunday, so that's the important thing. 

DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) and Raycom Media announced a new broadcast retransmission deal Sunday, ending a six-day blackout and enabling viewers in key pro football markets including New Orleans to catch Sunday's opening-season games. Service to 37 TV markets was restored with the agreement.

However, with Congress in the process of making important decisions about the fate of broadcast retransmission, the post-rhetoric deal on both sides wasn't friendly.

"We thank all of our affected customers for their patience over these past several days and regret that Raycom and too many other broadcast stations are willing to resort to these contrived blackouts to antagonize the public rather than serve it," DirecTV chief content officer Dan York said in a statement. "Broadcast station groups who ransom their content back into their communities at exorbitant fees deserve the scrutiny of the Federal Communications Commission and local Congressional representatives. Raycom's intentional recent black outs of Dish, Cox and now DirecTV customers creates an even greater sense of urgency for lawmakers to review and overhaul this anti-consumer retransmission consent process once and for all."

Noting the agreement with DirecTV still hadn't been finalized, Raycom CEO Paul McTear struck a more diplomatic tone. 

"We apologize for the inconvenience and thank them for their loyalty to their local stations throughout this process," he said in the statement. "We are very pleased to be, once again, serving them on the DirecTV system and will keep them informed as we work to finalize this agreement." 

However, the broadcast-backed lobbying/PR group TVFreedom took DirecTV to task, issuing the following statement of its own: "DirecTV's baseless, self-serving statement blaming Raycom Media for this week's brief local TV service disruption represents the height of hypocrisy and arrogance. Only a company the size of DirecTV--with more than 20 million U.S. customers and annual revenues of nearly $32 billion--would be shameless enough to suggest that Raycom Media has undue clout negotiating fair value for its most-watched local TV programming."

For more:
- read this TVFreedom statement
- read this Multichannel News story

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