UPDATE, 2:16 PM: DirecTV’s charges that Tribune negotiated in “bad faith” are “nothing more than negotiating tactics in an attempt to unfairly disadvantage Tribune from receiving fair market compensation” for its stations, the broadcaster says. In response to DirecTV’s claim that they had a basic deal on Thursday, Tribune says it “never reached agreement with DirecTV on all the terms of the contract — not in principle, not by handshake, and not on paper.” And the satellite company’s suggestion that private equity firms control Tribune — and therefore its broadcast licenses — “is simply false and misleading.” Tribune says that it’s seeking payments of less than a penny a day for each DirecTV customer who can see its stations and pay TV service WGN America.
PREVIOUS, 12:52 PM: In a bitterly worded filing, the satellite company asks regulators to require Tribune to extend its previous carriage agreement for one month. That would enable DirecTV to resume beaming Tribune’s 23 TV stations — including several Fox and CW affiliates — to about 6M of its customers as well as pay TV service WGN America. They’ve been unavailable to subscribers since Sunday morning. DirecTV says that Tribune negotiated in “bad faith”; the people representing the broadcast and newspaper company allegedly didn’t let on that Tribune’s creditors also had to approve any agreement. “DirecTV still does not know with whom it should be speaking — Tribune’s CEO or its associated hedge funds and investment banks,” the company says. Tribune has been controlled by equity firms since 2010 when it emerged from bankruptcy protection.
DirecTV laid out a chronology of its discussions with Tribune that suggest the broadcaster provided mixed messages — but also show that the satellite company was speaking through its satellite dish early Saturday when it indicated that the companies had an agreement. DirecTV said in a press release that it “has accepted financial terms” Tribune had offered on Thursday “to ensure customers do not lose their programming” when the deal expired at midnight. Turns out that on Friday afternoon, Tribune CEO Eddy Hartenstein (who founded DirecTV and led it for years) “called DirecTV’s (CEO Michael) White and rescinded the agreement in principle that DirecTV and Tribune had reached the previous evening,” the filing says. On Saturday, when DirecTV told Tribune that it would accept terms offered on Thursday, a representative “immediately responded by e-mail, claiming that DirecTV was trying to ‘accept an offer Tribune never made’.”