Sunbeam Television, a Miami-based station owner, today denied DIRECTV customers in its south Florida hometown access to their local FOX station, blacking out this Saturday’s and Sunday’s NFL divisional playoff games in an egregious attempt to extract a more than 300 percent increase in fees. As a result of Sunbeam’s actions, DIRECTV customers in Boston have also lost their local NBC and CW affiliates. DIRECTV made repeated requests to extend its agreement to carry Sunbeam Television stations so negotiations could continue and to avoid the loss of this afternoon’s NFC playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints, as well as tomorrow afternoon’s contest between the NY Giants and defending NFL Champion Green Bay Packers. Not only did Sunbeam flat out refuse this request, they sent a demand letter today dictating that the channels be removed immediately from DIRECTV. This decision rests solely on the shoulders of Sunbeam executives, so customers should call Sunbeam’s corporate offices and insist the channels be restored so customers aren’t placed in the middle while both sides work toward a deal to enable everyone to move on. Over the past 12 months, DIRECTV has achieved fair and equitable agreements with more than 70 local station owners representing hundreds of different TV channels (including stations in Boston and Miami) and without any programming disruptions. More than 20 of those agreements came within the past several weeks alone. “There is always one outlier, like Sunbeam, who has no problem committing an unthinkable abuse of the public trust in an effort to shake down an excessive financial arrangement for themselves,” said Derek Chang, executive vice president of Programming for DIRECTV. “We have 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. Sunbeam has completely disregarded its obligations to the public, NFL fans and hundreds of thousands of our loyal customers.”
Local broadcast station owners like Sunbeam operate under Federal license to freely use the airwaves and have a responsibility to all consumers to provide reasonable access to their programming. Threats by station owners and forced blackouts are a rising trend affecting other pay TV distributors, which has not escaped the attention of the Federal Communications Commission and members of Congress. DIRECTV will bring the Sunbeam matter to the attention of both the Federal Communications Commission and Congressional representatives from Sunbeam districts.About DIRECTV DIRECTV (NASDAQ: DTV) is one of the world’s leading providers of digital television entertainment services delivering a premium video experience through state-of-the-art technology, unmatched programming and industry leading customer service to more than 30.8 million customers in the U.S. and Latin America. In the U.S., DIRECTV offers its 19.7 million customers access to more than 170 HD channels and Dolby-Digital® 5.1 theater-quality sound, access to exclusive sports programming such as NFL SUNDAY TICKET™, Emmy- award winning technology and higher customer satisfaction than the leading cable companies for 11 years running. DIRECTV Latin America, through its subsidiaries and affiliated companies in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, and other Latin American countries, leads the pay-TV category in technology, programming and service, delivering an unrivaled digital television experience to more than 11.1 million customers. DIRECTV sports and entertainment properties include three Regional Sports Networks (Northwest, Rocky Mountain and Pittsburgh) as well as a 60 percent interest in Game Show Network. For the most up-to-date information on DIRECTV, please visit www.directv.com.