DirecTV’s blackouts in Indianapolis and Columbus drag into third week

NFL football has once again been taken hostage, with viewers in Columbus and Indianapolis blacked out of Browns and Colts games amid a dispute between DirecTV and Dispatch Broadcast Group.

The blackout on DirecTV by two Dispatch Broadcast Group stations in Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio, has entered its third week, with neither side reporting significant progress on a retransmission renewal. 

Dispatch controls CBS affiliate WBNS-TV in Columbus and NBC affiliate WTHR-TV in Indianapolis. Both channels were pulled off DirecTV on Sept. 6, with DirecTV parent AT&T and Dispatch unable to come to terms on a new broadcast retransmission licensing agreement. 

"We have even offered extensions in some circumstances and did so with AT&T/DirectTV in hopes that we would come to a fair resolution. However, it does not appear they were or are interested in expediting the negotiation for a fair resolution, hence why we are off their system,” said John Cardenas, president and general manager of WBNS-TV, to the Columbus Business Journal

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For its part, DirecTV has bigger fish to fry, with the satellite operator still working on a renewal deal with Raycom covering 54 network affiliates. 

The Lobbying group American Television Alliance, meanwhile, has made the usual rhetorical use of the DirecTV-Dispatch dispute, accusing the broadcaster of taking NFL football as a hostage. 

"Each year, football fans are used as pawns by big broadcasters to pad their wallets; this year we expect broadcasters to be even more aggressive as they stick it to fans to make up for shrinking advertising dollars," ATA spokesman Trent Duffy said in a statement.