Small broadcaster says DirecTV to remove local channels Friday

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An independent broadcast station owner says an impasse with satellite service DirecTV will result in the removal of its CBS and Fox affiliated stations.

In a note to viewers, Heritage Broadcasting said its Cadillac, Michigan stations — CBS affiliate WWTV (Channel 9) and Fox affiliate WFQX (Channel 32) — will be dropped from DirecTV’s satellite and streaming services on Friday, September 3.

The broadcaster had earlier warned that an expired carriage agreement would result in the loss of its two channels on DirecTV at the end of August, but a temporary extension allowed the channels to remain on DirecTV’s lineup through Friday evening.

“DirecTV has denied our station’s request to get reasonable programming compensation,” a news anchor with WWTV said in a video message to the station’s viewers last week.

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Until recently, DirecTV was a subsidiary of telecom giant AT&T, which purchased the satellite broadcaster for $67 billion in cash and assumed debt in 2015. Earlier this year, AT&T announced its intention to spin off DirecTV into a separate company, one that would be majority-owned by AT&T but otherwise exist as an independent unit with the financial backing of a private equity firm.

Heritage says their negotiations with DirecTV date back to AT&T’s ownership. The spin-off of DirecTV into a separate unit, which was completed earlier this month, didn’t help the indie broadcaster reach an agreement.

“Heritage Broadcasting Company of Michigan has been negotiating with DirecTV for months to come to terms on an agreement for continued carriage of [WWTV], but DirecTV has continued to reject Heritage’s requests for reasonable compensation for the station’s programming to allow Heritage to continue to deliver the service [WWTV’s] viewers have come to expect,” an earlier statement posted to the station’s website said.

Heritage Broadcasting now said it wants viewers to call DirecTV at their customer service line to “let them know you want CBS [and Fox programming].”

Should DirecTV become unavailable to Cadillac viewers, a live stream of WWTV is available through the commercial-free version of Paramount Plus, which costs $10 a month. A seven-day free trial is available to new subscribers of the service.

Live and on-demand versions of WWTV’s newscasts are available to stream through the free VUit app for smartphones, tablets and most streaming TV devices.

Both WWTV and WFQX are also freely available to viewers with a good antenna and the ability to receive each station’s signal.

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