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Published: Tuesday, 2/11/2014

Deal reached to keep local WTVG on DirecTV


A retransmission agreement between SJL Broadcasting, owners of Toledo’s WTVG, Channel 13, and DirecTV LLC was resolved Monday just hours before a deadline that would have required the satellite carrier to remove the local ABC affiliate from its broadcast lineup.

An executive with Lilly Broadcasting LLC, which has a close relationship with Montecito, Calif.-based SJL Broadcasting, said the two sides reached a deal in principle just hours ahead of a 5 p.m. deadline. No details were available on the deal or when it would be formalized.

However, John Christianson, executive vice president of Lilly, said the tentative deal assures no loss of service of WTVG for DirecTV subscribers while the agreement is being finalized.

Tom Tyrer, a spokesman for El Segundo, Calif.-based DirecTV, confirmed the tentative deal and that there will be no service disruption.

SJL had released a notice on Channel 13 alerting DirecTV subscribers that there was a possibility of a loss of service and that the satellite service’s viewers might need to find other sources to receive WTVG, such as through an over-the-air antenna, subscription to another satellite service, or service through a cable system operator.

“We’re sorry for any public panic on that,” Mr. Christianson said. However, the possibility that negotiations between the two sides might fail were real, he added.

A retransmission agreement is a set fee paid by a satellite service or cable provider that allows it to retransmit the signal of an over-the-air station on its service.

The fees are usually less than that paid for cable stations because the cable stations’ signals are scrambled and cannot be openly received over the air using just an antenna.

The dispute was similar to a current unresolved dispute between Buckeye CableSystem Inc. and Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns WNWO, Channel 24, the NBC affiliate in Toledo.

Sinclair ordered Buckeye to stop retransmitting Channel 24 when the previous contract between the two companies expired on Dec. 16. The two sides have been unable to come to an agreement on a new retransmission contract.

Since Jan. 13, DirecTV also has been involved in a very public ongoing dispute with the owner of the Weather Channel cable station over broadcast fees. The Weather Channel has been running advertisements urging consumers to contact DirecTV and urge it to settle the dispute and restore the Weather Channel to the DirecTV lineup.

Recently, DirecTV replaced the Weather Channel with another meteorological news station, WeatherNation TV. The move has had mixed reviews from the satellite service’s subscribers.

— Jon Chavez

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