Walter Kelley
If you thought it was bad when thousands of Puget Sound-area DirecTV subscribers missed the latest episode of Bob's Burgers last night, wait


DirecTV and Tribune Broadcasting Stalemate Continues to Wreak Havoc on Mother-In-Laws

Walter Kelley
If you thought it was bad when thousands of Puget Sound-area DirecTV subscribers missed the latest episode of Bob's Burgers last night, wait until Monday-night couch surfers can't watch their Bones or House. Shit's going to get ugly. And with the DirecTV vs. Tribune Broadcasting contract stalemate reaching into Day Two, meaning DirecTV customers in our area haven't tasted a drop of KCPQ-Channel 13 since 11:59 p.m. Saturday night (or any JoeTV, for that matter), that's exactly the kind of grim, apocalyptic situation we're faced with.

It's bleak out there. People are desperate. Take, for instance, my mother in law. She's taken to posting pleas like this one to Facebook:

What's with DIRECTV removing Fox CH 13 from the line up? That's my Glee station! What will I do?

Exactly. What will we do?

In case you've somehow missed this tragedy while it spreads its wrath of destruction all around us, here's what you need to know: DirecTV and the Tribune Broadcasting (a national broadcasting company that owns the local FOX affiliate KCPQ-Channel 13 and JoeTV) have been in negotiations for months, with Tribune wanting compensation from DirecTV for carrying its Fox affiliates in 19 markets across the country along with the national cable channel WGN America. While DirecTV has compensated Tribune for WGN America in the past, according to a snarky Q&A released by Tribune yesterday, DirecTV has never paid for broadcasting Tribune-owned Fox affiliates. Because the two corporations failed to reach an agreement before a midnight deadline Saturday, Tribune pulled its Fox affiliates in 19 markets, including New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia in addition to Seattle.

Channel 13 went black for all Seattle-area DirecTV subscribers at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. The world hasn't been the same since.

DirecTV serves a reported 32 million people in the U.S. and Latin America. It's tough to say how many of those folks reside in the Seattle area -- I Googled the crap out of it with no luck -- but it's safe to say it's a lot.

And the exact number of victims isn't really important anyway. No one should be forced to live without American Idol.

Adding to the drama (as though the dire alerts weren't enough), DirecTV and Tribune provided a plot twist late Saturday that most astute Simpsons or Family Guy viewer probably never saw coming.

As The Seattle Times described it:

In an exchange of dueling press releases Saturday, DirecTV at first said that it had accepted the financial terms that Tribune's management offered it by telephone two days ago. But Tribune came out with its own statement shortly after, saying it had not reached a deal or come to terms with DirecTV on any aspect of the contract.

DirecTV fired back, saying in another statement that it had a handshake deal with Tribune on Thursday with an agreed upon rate for their channels.

"Their actions are the true definition of 'bad faith' in every sense of the term," DirecTV said.

The satellite TV provider also wondered whether Tribune was having difficulty negotiating because of its bankruptcy process.

"Threatening station blackouts to extract an exorbitant fee for all of Tribune's content may provide an improved return for certain banks and hedge funds, but is not in the interest of its viewers and is not a cure for bankruptcy," DirecTV said.

Oh snap.

Walter Kelley could not be reached for comment.

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