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If you're a DirecTV customer like me, you're no doubt aware of the current carriage dispute between DirecTV and the Fox cable networks. Normally cable contract disputes are something that wouldn't remotely be on the average customer's radar, except for the fact that both entities have taken their street fight public. DirecTV has been running messages informing customers that if the dispute wasn't resolved by November 1st, they'd lose access to channels such as Fox, FX, and Fox News. This would mean missing the back half of shows such as Sons of Anarchy, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and American Horror Story, amongst others. Fox has countered with a string of commercials featuring folks such as Sons of Anarchy's Kurt Sutter and American Horror Story's Ryan Murphy, where the celebs implore you to contact DirecTV and tell them to "save your shows." Both sides have websites pointing the finger of blame at each other. Kurt Sutter even launched into a profanity-laced tirade against DirecTV on his blog.
And now things have gotten even uglier. Deadline reports that DirecTV executive vice president Derek Chang has taken the dispute to the FCC. In a letter to the commission, Change claims that Fox's ads have been misleading customers by suggesting that they may lose their local Fox channels after the November 1st deadline. According to his letter, these local channels are handled under an entirely different contract and don't expire until December 31st. Chang says Fox is intentionally trying to create confusion over the issue, as well as refusing to negotiate in good faith.
Without having the inside track on all the details of the negotiation, it's hard to say who is in the right here (or at least less in the wrong). One thing is for sure, however: once the deadline passes tomorrow, it's DirecTV customers who will likely be paying the price for this pissing match. You can read the full text of Chang's letter to the FCC below.
I want to alert you to a disturbing development that relates to the broadcast stations owned and operated by Fox Broadcasting Company, Inc. (“Fox”). Specifically, in the midst of a dispute over cable programming, Fox is using misleading advertising informing DIRECTV customers that “soon, in some markets, you may lose your local Fox station,” even though our retransmission consent agreement does not expire for over two months. Furthermore while Fox continues to run these misleading ads, Fox has refused to provide us a separate offer for the continued carriage of its broadcast stations.