Q. I am a DIRECTV subscriber and I have lost a bunch of great sports since we lost our Fox station here. World Series, football and now the World Cup! My question is: I am in one of those two-year contracts. Can I break the contract without penalty and if they try to penalize me, could I sue their butts? Please let us know. — Kent, Amarillo, Texas.
Kent, DIRECTV has been without 25 Mission-owned local stations since October 21 due to a fee dispute between the two companies. The stations include network affiliates for CBS, ABC, Fox and ABC, which means that DIRECTV subscribers in the Mission markets have lost the World Series, five weekends of college and NFL football and now the beginning of the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament from Qatar. (You can see a list of the Mission stations here. The blackout also affects DIRECTV Stream and U-verse.)
As of this morning, there’s no indication of any movement in the negotiations. Both sides are maintaining their initial positions. DIRECTV says Mission wants excessive fees to carry its signals while the latter says the former won’t pay a fair market rate.
Some DIRECTV subscribers, particularly those who want to watch the NFL games on CBS and Fox, would like to cancel the satellite TV service and sign up with a pay TV provider or live streaming service that carries the missing channels. However, many DIRECTV customers have enrolled in two-year plans that include stiff termination fees ($20 a month for every month left in the contract) if you cancel prior to the end of the agreement. (The two-year offers come with attractive and exclusive benefits such as the NFL Sunday Ticket for free.)
But I have received several e-mails from DIRECTV subscribers saying they can sue the satcaster for breach of contract. By their thinking, they should be allowed to cancel now without penalty because DIRECTV no longer provides all the channels that were available when their two-year agreement first began.
I can understand why they would feel that way. They are angry about the blackout of a favorite channel. But I have to inform everyone that you can’t sue DIRECTV for breach to get out of the two-year deal. The satcaster has included language in the agreement that enables them to drop channels, or raise prices, at any time during the two years.
“All offers, programming, promotions, pricing, terms, restrictions & conditions subject to change & may be modified, discontinued, or terminated at any time without notice,” the terms state.
So if you want to cancel DIRECTV, you won’t have any success doing it by filing a lawsuit.
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— Phillip Swann