By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, we have been without our local Fox station here for months and months. Do you know if there’s anything we can do? Can we sue? Is there anything new with this blackout? Please write about this. We feel like no one is paying attention to us. — Mae, Amarillo, Texas.
DIRECTV last October lost 26 local stations due to a carriage dispute with their owner, Mission Broadcasting. The blackout also affects DIRECTV Stream and U-verse.
The stations, which are managed by Nexstar, are in 26 markets including New York. Providence, Rhode Island, Little Rock, Albuquerque, Abilene, Texas, Albany, New York and Erie, Pennsylvania, among others. You can see a complete list here.
DIRECTV in March sued Nexstar, Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting, alleging the three companies have violated anti-trust law in a scheme to pump up carriage fees for local network affiliates. Since the lawsuit filing, the satcaster has said nothing publicly about the dispute while Mission’s local stations have urged viewers to either switch to another provider or ask DIRECTV for a rebate every month.
“(You won’t get a rebate) unless you ask, and then you will likely have to asked each and every month this goes on. So, we urge you to reach out t DIRECTV and demand a rebate, and to remind them you have options,” the local stations say at their web sites.
In other words, there is nothing new on this dispute and there’s no evidence that it will end anytime soon. And as for your question about suing DIRECTV, I’m sorry to tell you 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 year agreement.
“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.
Mae, you really only have two options, as the Mission local stations point out. You can switch providers — and incur the $20 a month penalty for early termination of your agreement (if you have a year left, that would be $240) — or ask DIRECTV for a rebate.
The TV Answer Man will update this story if anything significant happens.
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— Phillip Swann