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Cox stations restored to DirecTV before Super Bowl LVIII

A DirecTV satellite installation van. (Photo by Mike Mozart via Wikimedia Commons)
A DirecTV satellite installation van. (Photo by Mike Mozart via Wikimedia Commons)

Around a dozen local television stations owned by Cox Media Group were restored to satellite and streaming platform DirecTV with hours to go before the Super Bowl.

In a joint press release issued on Sunday, the companies said a new multi-year agreement was reached that allowed DirecTV to carry Cox Media-owned broadcast channels on its satellite, DirecTV via Internet, DirecTV Stream and U-Verse platforms.

The channels disappeared from DirecTV on February 2 following the expiration of a prior carriage agreement between the two sides. As is typical in disputes like these, the central issue was how much money Cox Media asked of DirecTV in exchange for the right to carry their channels on DirecTV’s pay television platforms.

During the dispute, both Cox Media and DirecTV were particular chirpy about the root cause of the programming dispute. Pay television companies typically blame broadcasters for asking for more money, with the fees passed along to consumers in the form of higher bills. Broadcasters, on the other hand, say they’re merely seeking a fair agreement that would allow them to continue investing in local news, national programming and sports rights.

“CMG is playing chicken with the industry, willfully ignoring the economics that its programming does not warrant a double-digit annual rate increase on top of an already exorbitant fee structure,” a spokesperson for DirecTV said earlier this month.

“By pulling its stations, CMG intends to penalize its viewers twice: Once when pulling the programming, and again when they return it at an unwarranted higher rate, adding insult to injury,” the spokesperson continued.

“While we’ve been signing dozens of fair-market carriage deals that bring our high-quality programming to more than 50 million viewers, DirecTV has been dropping hundreds of TV stations and depriving its customers of the local content they want and paid DirecTV for,” Marian Pittman, an executive vice president at Cox Media, said in a statement of their own.

This particular dispute was settled in a predictable fashion: With both sides issuing a sparsely-worded statement that contained no information about the financial terms of the agreement. It is also unclear if the agreement will lead to higher fees for DirecTV and U-Verse subscribers at some point in the future; a spokesperson for DirecTV told The Desk by email that the company “will continue to work with broadcasters like CMG, as well as any other programmers, to align the price our customers pay with the value they can expect to receive.”

The blackout had the potential to keep DirecTV and U-Verse subscribers from watching Super Bowl LVIII (58) in two areas where Cox Media owns the local CBS affiliate: Seattle and Dayton, Ohio.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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