I’ve heard my local station claim DIRECTV refuses to pay “fair value” for its local stations. Is that true?

DIRECTV is always willing to pay “fair” market value to allow our customers the convenience of seeing local broadcast stations in their DIRECTV lineup, but DIRECTV does not believe “fair value” includes obligating every family to cover nearly $4 billion for shows they can otherwise receive for free over the air and all sorts of other options.

I pay DIRECTV to make sure I always get my favorite shows, but when there is a contract dispute, I’m told I may lose my channels. So just who is responsible for taking them away?

Let’s clear this up right now. DIRECTV does not take stations away during any programming dispute. In fact, U.S. law prevents it. Only the station can do that. DIRECTV has no choice but to offer every local broadcast station in the nation, small or large, popular or not, if they ask to be carried. Yet to do that, we must obtain permission from each of those station’s owners. Unfortunately, a record number have begun taking away channels – at least temporarily – to try and ransom back the same programs you always had for as much as ten times more — and that drives up your monthly bill to unacceptable levels. We are standing up for you to make sure you receive more value for your programming dollar. You deserve more freedom to choose, control and customize the TV experience you pay to bring into your home. And we’re working hard to help you achieve it.

Why shouldn’t I just switch to some other cable, satellite or telco video provider who can promise me what I want?

Switching isn’t the answer because no TV provider can promise you won’t be blacked out. There have already been a record 110 cities and counting this year where local stations have intentionally blacked out their most loyal viewers in order to ransom back their same stations for more. These blackouts affect millions of cable, satellite and telco video customers, no matter where they live. Unfortunately, jumping from one provider to another to try to avoid a blackout offers no real escape. It only encourages channels to blackout others, raising the price that everyone pays.

Why don’t you just give the station or network owners what they want so I’m 100 percent guaranteed of never losing any of my favorite shows?

We’re more than willing to compensate station and network owners fairly, but some try to deny you the channels you want, at least temporarily, in order to ransom back what you always had for as much as ten times more. That can only mean less value for your hard-earned programming dollar, and that’s where DIRECTV draws the line. So long as their owners can take a few most popular networks away, blame the provider, and spend millions trying to antagonize customers into switching providers, they believe they have DIRECTV – and you – over a barrel. This is why we’ve created DIRECTVPromise.com, to help keep you informed and so you can make up your own mind.

Is there any way for DIRECTV to avoid these disputes?

DIRECTV will always do its best to resolve these situations quickly, amicably and professionally. We’ll continue to fight to protect your bill from huge increases just to meet some arbitrary station demand. When we believe our customers are being abused or deceived, local stations or network owners should not be surprised that we will stand up and fight on our customers’ behalf.

You say you are fighting to keep our bill low, but yet you raise prices every year.

We strive to deliver an exceptional television experience at a great value to each of our more than 20 million customers just like you. Unfortunately, that’s becoming more difficult, as we continue to face the challenge of rapidly rising costs for local stations, sports and other programs. It’s not just happening at DIRECTV, however. It’s happening to every cable, satellite or telco media provider, and it’s even beginning to occur with some streaming services too. We’ve raised our rates by an average of 3-4 percent over the past several years, which is less than any other major video provider, even though our actual programming costs have increased by nearly 10 percent. We believe that’s fair and we need to share these costs as much as you. But trying to keep costs low isn’t enough. We also believe we need to keep re-investing and innovating to provide you the very best video experience at the most reasonable price.

Why don’t people just get whatever channel is missing with an over-the-air antenna?

In many cases it’s as simple as that. If you’re missing a local ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, or NBC station, all you have to do is turn off your DIRECTV receiver and turn to the channel on your television set. If you have a newer digital television set, usually the antenna is built right in. You can often boost that reception with a fairly inexpensive external digital antenna available from any local electronics store. Nine times out of ten, these disputes involve local broadcast channels, but if it’s a cable or satellite network the owner has removed from your line-up, much of the programming is available online at the network’s own website – typically for free and without much – if any – delay. It’s not ideal, but it’s usually enough to keep you connected during the short period of time it usually takes to resolve these situations.

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