WBOC and FOX21 Could Disappear from DIRECTV Channel Lineup After - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

WBOC and FOX21 Could Disappear from DIRECTV Channel Lineup After July 31

SALISBURY, Md.- WBOC and FOX21, the local CBS and FOX affiliates found on Channels 16 and 21, on Thursday announced that despite prolonged negotiations, it appears that DIRECTV is unwilling to carry the stations past the end of its current contract. If no agreement is reached, WBOC and FOX21 will no longer be seen on DIRECTV after midnight Thursday, July 31, 2014.

If DIRECTV drops WBOC and FOX21 from its channel lineup, DIRECTV subscribers will no longer be able to view their favorite programming on DIRECTV, including their local news, LIVE With Kelly and Michael, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, MLB Baseball, NFL football, The Young and the Restless, DelmarvaLife and NCIS.

By law, WBOC and FOX21 must negotiate carriage agreements with satellite companies like DIRECTV for the right to retransmit the stations' signals. Usually, these deals are reached without any service disruption, according to Craig Jahelka, WBOC's and FOX21's vice president and general manager. He noted that WBOC and FOX21 have negotiated dozens of agreements with every other major cable and satellite distributor without ever having a disruption. Jahelka said that unfortunately, so far, DIRECTV has refused to reach a fair, market-based deal to retransmit the stations' signals.

"We pay millions of dollars a year for the right to bring programming to Delmarva like CBS, FOX and local news," Jahelka said. "Without retransmission fees, it would be very difficult to bring this kind of high quality programming to Delmarva."

Jahelka explained that WBOC and FOX21 are asking for far less than what DIRECTV pays for national networks like ESPN – even though WBOC's and FOX21's ratings are much higher than ESPN's ratings.

"We are asking DIRECTV for fair and reasonable compensation for the continued retransmission of our free over-the-air broadcast signals," Jahelka said. "And what we're asking for amounts to a few pennies a day per customer."

WBOC’s and FOX21’s long-term agreement with DIRECTV expires on July 31, 2014. Jahelka said WBOC and FOX21 cannot force DIRECTV to keep the stations’ programming on its channel lineup after that deadline. However, WBOC’s and FOX21’s programming will remain available for viewers over the air, and this dispute will not affect customers of DISH NETWORK, Comcast, Verizon, or Mediacom.

"We want to reach an agreement with DIRECTV," Jahelka emphasized. "We don't want any of our approximately 29,000 DIRECTV customers to lose access to our programs."

However, DIRECTV said this in a statement, "...WBOC's owner Draper Holdings is denying DIRECTV permission to provide its stations unless DIRECTV first commits people to pay nearly seven times more to receive the same shows others keep getting both off-air and online for free."

Jahelka said there are some steps DIRECTV customers can take to encourage the satellite provider to reach an agreement with WBOC and FOX21 before the July 31 deadline.

"We need DIRECTV customers to call DIRECTV and tell them how important WBOC and FOX21 are to them," Jahelka said.

DIRECTV customers are encouraged to call DIRECTV at 1-800-531-5000 and to tell DIRECTV that they pay the satellite provider a lot of money to watch their favorite shows on WBOC and FOX21.

"Call DIRECTV at 1-800-531-5000 and tell DIRECTV if they drop WBOC and FOX21, you will drop them," Jahelka said.

For additional information about what DIRECTV customers can do to keep WBOC and FOX21 on DIRECTV, click here.

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