DirecTV Files FCC Complaint Vs. Tribune

The latest spat over broadcast station retransmission fees charged to satellite and cable system operators has taken an interesting turn. DirecTV has filed an FCC complaint that accuses creditors of bankrupt Tribune Co. of taking control of TV stations without getting approval from regulators, according to the Wall Street Journal. The stations in question include affiliates of Fox and the CW, and they have been blacked out on DirecTV since the weekend. DirecTV filed a complaint Monday asking the FCC to intervene. The disagreement is over fees DirecTV pays to carry Tribune’s 23 TV stations in 19 cities. Fox is owned by News Corp and The CW is owned by CBS Corp and Time Warner Inc. Tribune’s ongoing bankruptcy complicates the issue of who controls the stations’ broadcast licenses. Tribune has asked the FCC for the OK to transfer control of the broadcast licenses to its creditors, DirecTV said in its complaint. But the FCC has been waiting for Tribune to reach a deal with its creditors and receive bankruptcy-court approval for the company’s reorganization plan. DirecTV alleges Tribune creditors are already acting as if they are in charge. DirecTV says it reached an accord with Tribune but that creditors balked. Tribune denied there was any agreement. Creditors Bank of America and Citigroup declined to comment. DirecTV said Tribune is asking for triple the fees it receives.

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