Here we go again. The biggest independent distributor of NBC programming has begun to air crawls and announcements warning DirecTV subscribers of “the possibility of a signal disruption” after November 30 when the programming carriage agreement for its 23 stations expires. “Over the past weeks, we have been in intense negotiations with DirecTV to reach a fair, market-based deal,” Gannett says. It adds that it has “never had service disruption with a major carrier” and will “work with DirecTV right up to the deadline.” DirecTV counters on its website that Gannett’s gone public “to try to get customers angry and pressure DirecTV to accept a deal that would more than double the cost of their stations.” It adds that blackout threats have become “a regrettable part of our business, as too many stations licensed to serve the public are willing to antagonize them instead.” About 20% of the 20.1M households in Gannett’s markets watch the stations’ programming on DirecTV, according to SNL Kagan data. Gannett has 12 NBC affiliates as well as six with CBS, three with ABC, and two with MyNetworkTV. Gannett’s properties include the CBS station in Washington, DC, and NBC stations in Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver, Cleveland, and Phoenix. Last month Gannett’s carriage negotiations with Dish Network went right to the wire, but without any disruption of service.
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