Heartland CEO Bob Prather says the prior agreement with the satellite service expired in January and that DirecTV had continued to carry the stations since then under a series of extensions. But the negotiations finally broke down yesterday with DirecTV saying it would not meet Heartland's final demands.
Four Heartland Stations Go Dark On DirecTV
Four small-market Heartland Media TV stations went dark on DirecTV at 11:59 ET Wednesday night after Heartland and the satellite TV operator failed to renew their retransmission consent agreement.
The affected stations: WKTV Utica, N.Y. (NBC, CBS, CW) — DMA 172; WTVA Tupelo, Miss. (NBC, ABC) — DMA 133; KDRV Medford, Ore. (ABC) — DMA 140; and KEZI Eugene, Ore. (ABC) — DMA 119.
Heartland CEO Bob Prather said that the prior agreement had expired in January and that DirecTV had continued to carry the stations since then under a series of extensions.
But the negotiations finally broke down with DirecTV saying it would not meet Heartland’s final demands, Prather said.
And Prather said the demands were not extraordinary. “We are asking for the same terms and same fees as everybody else we have made a deal with and that includes Time Warner, Charter, Comcast and Dish. We weren’t asking for anything more.
“They’re saying we are not big enough to get decent rates. Their whole game is, we’re the big guys, we don’t have to pay attention to you because you are the little guy.”
Prather would not say what terms and fees Heartland was asking for, citing a confidentiality agreement.
A DirecTV spokesman had this comment: “We want to get the Heartland and USA Television stations back into our customers’ line-ups and share their frustration. The stations’ owners are prohibiting their signals from reaching their homes unless they receive a significant increase in their current fees just to let the same families keep watching shows that remain available for free over-the-air and often online. Most Columbus, Tupelo and Utica customers can continue to watch NBC’s Olympics coverage by streaming it live on NBCOlympics.com or using the NBC Sports Live Extra app for desktops, mobile devices, tablets and connected TVs. We appreciate their patience as we work to get these stations back and attempt to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably.”
This story was updated at 5 p.m. Thursday to include the above response from DirecTV.