With Pats poised for Super Bowl, Boston DirecTV subscribers may be left in the dark

Think that the fact the New England Patriots are still in the hunt for a berth in the Super Bowl has anything to do with Sunbeam Television's tough stance in negotiating a new retransmission deal with DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) in the Boston area?

Sunbeam (WHDH, Ch. 7 and WLVI, Ch. 56 in the greater Boston area) has blackedout out its signal to DirecTV and its 200,000 subscribers in the area, contending that the satellite provider won't pony up the cash that other pay-TV providers have for its signal.

 "We have negotiated several agreements with several other cable companies, which has clearly set a market rate,'' Chris Wayland, GM of the two stations said. "At this point, DirecTV is not willing to come anywhere what the established market rate is... . We are still negotiating and anxious to get to a resolution.''

DirecTV, for its part, said Sunbeam is asking too much, and is out of line with the more than 70 retransmission deals it's negotiated in the past year.

DirectTV has asked Sunbeam to continue delivering the signal during negotiations, but Sunbeam has declined, a move DTV says is "totally wrong."

Derek Chang, DirecTV's EVP of programming said the operator had "no problem compensating Sunbeam fairly, but we have to take a stand against runaway greed and a shameless attempt to extort a more than 300 percent fee increase that our customers risk having to absorb."

DirecTV has been without the two channels since they were blacked out Jan. 13. Sunbeam also pulled its signal from Miami's WSVN.

Stay tuned.

For more:
- see this Boston.com article

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