DirecTV dispute with Sunbeam has viewers in dark

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Cable and satellite providers are pushing back. They contend that outdated Federal Communications Commission rules enable local affiliates to hold them hostage, and some members of Congress have introduced bills that would end a rule requiring the providers to carry only local broadcast signals.

“They have found there’s a gold mine,” said Mike Heimowitz at the American Television Alliance, which represents many satellite and cable companies. “They are using the rules to extract more and more money.”

Brill, the media consultant, said she expects the DirecTV-Sunbeam dispute to be settled, possibly just in time for a playoff game or the Super Bowl. That’s what happened in a 2010 fee fight between New York’s Cablevision Systems Corp. and ABC, which ended just as the annual Academy Awards telecast got under way.

“They usually cave in at the last minute,” Brill said. “Consumers will wind up paying extra. That’s the moral of the story.”


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