WTHR removed from DirecTV in carriage dispute

Companies at odds over fees

INDIANAPOLIS - WTHR, Indianapolis' NBC affiliate, is no longer seen on DirecTV because of a dispute between the satellite company and the station's owner.

WTHR was removed from DirecTV Sept. 1 after Columbus, Ohio-based Dispatch Broadcast Group did not reach an agreement with the satellite provider to continue carriage.

If an agreement is not reached in the next few days, the Indianapolis Colts NFL season opener at Denver won't be shown to DirecTV subscribers in central Indiana.

Cable and satellite providers must negotiate a fee with TV station owners. Viewers generally aren't aware of the behind-the-scenes details, until providers or TV groups tell their customers and viewers about them as existing contracts near expiration.

Typically, each side wages a public relations war, with TV station owners telling viewers they are only trying to get fair compensation for heavily watched programming and cable/satellite providers telling subscribers they are trying to keep down costs they pass on to consumers.

WTHR's website featured a prominent "message for DirecTV customers," urging viewers to tell DirecTV to "engage in meaningful negotiations to restore the signal to the system."

"DirecTV is only willing to pay less than half of what it pays other channels," read part of WTHR's statement.

WTHR's site also points out that its signal can be received with an antenna or through companies that compete with DirecTV.

The satellite company has its own site, claiming local stations "are the only ones who can decide whether or not to remain in your channel lineup" and telling customers that "switching isn't the answer."

"Switching TV providers during these disputes only makes it easier for them to raise your bill," read a statement on DirecTV's site.

WTHR and WBNS, Dispatch's station in Columbus, aren't the only local stations currently off DirecTV.

Raycom Media, owner of dozens of TV stations, also pulled its channels from the satellite company. That dispute affects viewers of WFIE in Evansville and WAVE in Louisville, both also NBC affiliates, along with WXIX in Cincinnati, a Fox affiliate.

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