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News-Press & Gazette: We Have a Deal With DIRECTV

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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.

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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.

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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