News-Press & Gazette has issued a statement saying it has reached an agreement with DIRECTV to restore its 18 local channels, just in time for today’s NFL conference championship games.
The News-Press & Gazette channels had been off DIRECTV since January 12 when the two companies could not reach a new carriage agreement. AT&T, which owns DIRECTV, had said News-Press & Gazette is seeking excessive carriage fees, a charge denied by the broadcaster.
But the broadcaster last night issued a terse statement at its web site that said: “We have reached an agreement to restore our stations to the DIRECTV system. Thank you for your patience and support as we worked through the negotiation.”
DIRECTV has yet to issue a statement regarding the News-Press & Gazette statement, which does not say if the agreement is a temporary extension or a multi-year deal.
Updated: A source close to the talks says the deal is done and not an extension.
The agreement comes after DIRECTV last Wednesday requested temporary rights to air Sunday’s NFL games. The Green Bay Packers play the Atlanta Falcons at 3 p.m. on Fox while the Pittsburgh Steelers play the New England Patriots on CBS at 6:40 p.m. ET.
Viewer anger over the blackout rose last weekend with the airing of the second round of the NFL playoffs. In fact, actor Rob Lowe, a former DIRECTV spokesman, even criticized his former employer on Twitter.
The stations owned by News-Press & Gazette are located in such mid-sized markets as Palm Springs, California; Bend, Oregon, Idaho Falls, Idaho; Colorado Springs, Colorado; El Paso, Texas; Santa Barbara, California; Columbia, Missouri and Yuma, Arizona. To see a complete list of the stations that could be affected, click here.
— Phillip Swann