It's well known that if it bleeds it leads on South Florida FOX affiliate WSVN, but local DirecTV costumers could be missing all that blood and a lot more if the station doesn't come to an agreement with the satellite provider. Channel 7's parent company and DirecTV have until midnight tonight to come to an agreement over retransmission fees or the channel could be blacked out starting this weekend. Yes, the NFC divisional round playoff games are on FOX this weekend. Yes, American Idol premiers next week.
"We are currently negotiating with DirecTV," said Robert Leider, WSVN vice president and general manager, in a story on the station's website. "But right now, it does not look like we are going to be able to reach an agreement. If that happens, people who watch DirecTV will not be able to watch Channel 7."
The heart of the argument is over how much DirecTV pays Sunbeam Television. Sunbeam owns WSVN in addition to two stations in Boston.
"DirecTV is working with owners of WSVN in Miami, to keep providing its local news, sports and network programs beyond Jan. 13 when Sunbeam has told us they would remove the stations from our lineup," reads a statement from DirecTV. "We have no problem compensating Sunbeam fairly. DirecTV leads the video industry in settling programming disputes before any customers lose access to their favorite shows."
The argument could also affect local bars who subscribe to DirecTV's NFL package.
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Of course, television owners can still get WSVN by hooking up an antenna, but you didn't pay all the money for your HD flatscreen to watch antenna television did you? Subscribers could also switch to a cable provider, but it's unlikely installation could be done before the weekend.
If the blackout isn't avoided and indeed extends beyond the weekend, DirecTV subscribers could also miss next week's season premiere of American Idol.
The good news is though that these arguments between stations and satellite providers have a tendency to go up to the last minute. Don't be surprised if a deal is struck before midnight tonight.