DirecTV stops airing ABC affiliate KEYT-TV

Shutoff comes after the two companies fail to sign a new contract

jlavelle@thetribunenews.comOctober 9, 2013 

Central Coast subscribers to DirecTV may need to go elsewhere to watch “Dancing with the Stars,” “Modern Family” and KEYT-TV local news, after the satellite-television provider and the parent company of the local ABC affiliate failed to reach an agreement on a new contract.

DirecTV stopped airing the national ABC lineup as well as local programming carried by KEYT-TV as of 10 a.m. Wednesday. The ABC affiliate serves the San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria and Santa Barbara markets.

Calls to DirecTV were not immediately returned on Wednesday so it was unclear how many Central Coast customers it has.

DirecTV viewers wanting to watch KEYT were greeted with a blue screen and the words, “DirecTV has been unable to renew our agreement with this broadcast station, and the station has forced us to take it down. Please go to DirecTV.com/alerts for more information.”

The contract standoff affects all 10 ABC affiliates, including KEYT, owned by the News-Press & Gazette Co.

In announcing the contract termination, KEYT general manager Mark Danielson cited a rate dispute between DirecTV and News-Press & Gazette Co. The Missouri-based company purchased KEYT last year.

Danielson blamed DirecTV for shutting off programming.

“I’ve been in television for 26 years, and I’ve never had a station pulled before. This is all new territory,” Danielson said. “We continue to negotiate in good faith and hope this situation is resolved soon.”

He said he was disappointed that DirecTV would “deprive its subscribers” of local and national ABC programming and noted that viewers can still watch KEYT with an antenna, on DISH Network, or from cable companies Comcast, Charter, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable.

Danielson said the two companies had been in negotiations for several weeks, with KEYT granting an extension to DirecTV after the previous contract expired Sept. 30.

“The core dispute between DirecTV and the station involves the price DirecTV is willing to pay the station for the right to re-sell the station’s signal, and DirecTV’s demand for the right to place the station’s signal on the Internet without paying the station a fair price,” Danielson said.

He said his company’s rate proposal was consistent with contracts it has in place with other satellite and cable providers. Danielson said he was hopeful the disagreement could be resolved, but suggested that satellite subscribers might start looking for other options to view KEYT.

In addition to Santa Barbara-based KEYT, the News-Press & Gazette Co. owns stations in Palm Springs; Yuma, Ariz.; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Bend, Ore.; Colorado Springs and Grand Junction, Colo.; El Paso, Texas; and Columbia and St. Joseph, Mo.

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