Miami-Fort Lauderdale pro football fans are getting a break tomorrow in the local TV station owner’s retransmission fee feud with DirecTV. Sunbeam Television’s Fox affiliate WSVN is lifting its blackout in DirecTV homes during the NFC championship game between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers. It’s also allowing the satcaster to show American Idol later that night and local news. “WSVN-TV is still negotiating with DirecTV, but we care about our viewers, and we want them to be able to watch this game, which will determine who goes to the Super Bowl,” said Robert Leider, WSVN’s EVP/GM.
Sunbeam also owns Boston NBC affiliate WHDH, which remains blacked out on DirecTV, which means if the New England Patriots defeat the Baltimore Ravens tomorrow in the AFC title match, Boston-area fans would have to scramble on Superbowl Sunday February 5 — unless Sunbeam and DirecTV come to terms. Citing complaints from constituents, U.S. Senator John Kerry has asked the FCC to step in and nudge the two sides to make a deal. New York media consultant Shari Anne Brill said she expects the DirecTV-Sunbeam dispute to be settled, possibly just in time for a playoff game or the Super Bowl. “They usually cave in at the last minute,” Brill said. “Consumers will wind up paying extra.”