DirecTV has decided to discontinue the carriage of WSTR Star64.
The retransmission agreement with DirecTV to carry the station recently expired and after several extensions DirecTV and WSTR Star64 were not able to reach an agreement that allows for further carriage of the station.
WSTR Star64 regrets the inconvenience this will cause to DirecTV subscribers who want to continue to watch the extremely popular programming that airs on the station.
WSTR Star64 suggests that you contact DirecTV by calling them at 1-800-531-5000, or through their website (https://www.att.com/contactus/mobile/digitaltv/DirecTV.html), via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DirecTV) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/DIRECTV) and let them know you want them to continue to carry this station.
Answers to some of the questions you may have about this matter are addressed below. The station appreciates your understanding and patience with regard to this matter. Thank you.
Q: What is retransmission consent?
A: Retransmission consent is a process created by federal law whereby cable and satellite companies negotiate with the owners of television stations for the right to carry those stations on their systems.
Q: Can television stations require cable or satellite companies to carry them?
A: Yes, they can by making something referred to as a must-carry election, which would then require carriage for a three-year period.
Q: Why didn't the station elect must-carry for its stations?
A: The station chose not to elect must-carry in order to have the right to negotiate with the cable and satellite system to receive certain things, such as compensation and channel position, which it would not receive by making a must-carry election. As a result of the station’s retransmission consent election, the relationship between the stations and DirecTV is essentially the same as the typical commercial relationship that exists between any wholesaler attempting to sell its product to a retailer so that the retailer can then sell the product to consumers in its market.
Q: Why should DirecTV have to pay to carry a television station?
A: Local TV stations pay millions of dollars each year to buy high-quality programming and to produce important informational programs, such as the local news. It is just standard business practice that companies like DirecTV pay for the right to resell programming to their subscribers.
Q: But aren't television stations available for free over-the-air?
A: Local TV stations are available over-the-air at no cost with the use of an antenna. However, this doesn't mean that cable companies have the right to resell our signal without properly compensating us. It is no different than a local radio station which is available for free over-the-air, but a satellite radio company like SiriusXM Radio does not have the right to carry local stations and charges subscribers for them.
Q: Don't television stations benefit from carriage on cable systems in the form of larger audiences and increased advertising revenues?
A: All channels benefit from being carried on a cable or satellite system including local TV stations as well as cable networks which are also advertiser supported. The station is simply asking to be treated fairly and compensated based on the popularity of our programming.
Q: Doesn’t the station make its money through advertising sales? So why also charge for retransmission consent?
A: It is true that a primary source of revenues comes from advertising sales. However, the station is entitled to be compensated fairly when another company uses our content and re-sells it to the public.
Q: Is this just a dispute about money?
A: Although the station does not believe it is productive to negotiate its private business relationships in the public, the inability to reach agreement with DirecTV is about more than just money.
Q: Is it fair to characterize the stations as "pulling its signal" from DirecTV?
A: The station would not characterize this as the stations "pulling its signal" or DirecTV "refusing to carry" the stations. This is simply the case of a buyer and seller being unable to agree on price and other terms, something that occurs every day in both commercial and consumer transactions.
Q: How long is this dispute likely to last?
A: It is impossible to answer this question accurately, although it is certainly possible that DirecTV will never carry the stations in the future.
Q: Won't DirecTV just bring in another station from another market with the same programming?
A: Business contracts, the law and FCC regulations severely restrict DirecTV’s ability to do this. Local TV station programming contracts generally provide for market exclusivity (including network primetime and sports programming). Additionally, local programming the stations produces, such as local news, wouldn't be available from another, out-of-market station.
Q: Doesn't this punish the consumer?
A: Consumers have other means of obtaining the station, such as over-the-air, and from other satellite, cable or telephone companies, and so, while the station recognizes and apologizes for the inconvenience associated with switching providers, no significant detriment to the consumer will result from DirecTV’s failure to carry the station.
Q: Isn’t this just about greed?
A: No. It’s about a local business working to operate its business profitably. Given that the station spends millions of dollars each year to buy and produce high-quality programming, it is only right and fair that DirecTV compensate us fairly for a portion of our cost, especially since they are re-selling our content to their subscribers. In addition, the inability to reach agreement with DirecTV is related to other material matters besides the amount the station is to be paid.
Q: Won’t this cost get passed on to the consumer?
A: That is a question for DirecTV to answer. They may pass these costs on to their subscribers or they could choose just to reduce the profits they make. Alternatively, they could negotiate to reduce the fees they pay for programming which is far less popular than the programming provided by the station.