November 21st, 2013 1:25 EST:
We continue to receive wonderful support from so many of our WLNE-TV ABC6 viewers across lower New England. Here is yet another recent example of an email from one such viewer who made the switch from DirecTV...and are very glad they did:
"...just a quick post-script to the saga of DirectTV and all the baloney they've tried to pass off as fact to us FORMER DirectTV subscribers; on Wednesday the 13th the Verizon installer came and set us up with Verizon FIOS and – amazingly – Verizon's HD IS razor-sharp and we ARE getting many more channels for less money than DirectTV! WOW! The best part was being able to once again see all the familiar faces of WLNE and Good Morning America – and watch the most accurate weather reports available to us here in Rhode Island! I also ran into our former retired Hopkinton police chief who apparently just switched from DirectTV to Verizon FIOS too – and for the same reason! As The Queen would say, "Stay Calm and Carry On" – because I think DirectTV has grossly underestimated the value of Channel 6 to your loyal viewers!"
Like the viewer above, we hope more and more viewers will choose to make the switch away from DirecTV. We know many viewers were concerned that WJAR-TV and DISH Network were experiencing a similar dispute which made the switch to that competing satellite service less attractive. Well, that dispute was settled last weekend, so perhaps that option is now a more viable one to many of you who had been previously resisting it for that reason. Other options continue to include Verizon FiOS, Cox, Comcast, and other local cable systems. And, of course, WLNE-TV ABC6 is always available for free, over-the-air via an antenna.
We do very much appreciate the continuing encouragement we have received over the past many weeks. In fact, the dispute with DirecTV that has kept ABC6 off their satellite service will have reached the 5 week mark as of midnight tonight. We presented them with a couple different approaches to resolving our differences last week. They immediately rejected one; they have yet to give us so much as a response let alone a counter-proposal to the other, choosing instead to re-submit a previous proposal of theirs that is unacceptable for reasons they fully understand. We share your frustration and concern with DirecTV's lack of regard for their customers.
November 20th, 2013 2:22 EST:
Thank you for your continuing expressions of support and loyalty. We have received numerous inquiries from viewers waiting for an update on our discussions with DirecTV. We regret to say that you're waiting because we're waiting.
Last week we had three separate discussions with DirecTV to attempt to resolve the dispute. On Thursday, November 14, we offered DirecTV two new ways to break the impasse. DirecTV rejected one of them out of hand. The other DirecTV said it would consider. We guess DirecTV is still considering, because we haven't heard back from them since then.
Unfortunately, we can't make DirecTV talk to us or strike a deal to resume carriage. But you can. Call DirecTV and tell them to return to the negotiating table because otherwise your next call will be to cancel your subscription.
Of course, if you are already too tired of waiting, you can simply call one of the local cable operators such as Verizon FiOS, Cox Cable, Comcast, Charter, or Full Channel, or satellite carrier DISH Network. These other providers will be happy to offer you a service that includes all of your favorite channels. Alternatively, most viewers should be able to receive us over the air for free with an appropriate antenna.
Please understand that we are doing everything we can to resolve this, but, at this point, we do not see a breakthrough on the immediate horizon. We share your frustration. Thank you, again, for your loyalty and patience.
November 8th, 2013 5:19 EST:
IMPORTANT CUSTOMER NOTICE: We appreciate very much the many expressions of support we have received in recent weeks since the removal of WLNE-TV ABC6 from the DirecTV satellite service. As you know, we are your local ABC station, we are deeply invested in our community, and we have personally reached out to many of you who have contacted us. Below is the response we received from one loyal viewer. THANK YOU, SHEILA! We encourage all of you to be as proactive as Sheila: Tell DirecTV you are fed up, and then call Verizon FiOS, like Sheila did, or one of the other providers in our area, such as Charter, Comcast, Cox Cable, DISH Network, or Full Channel.
Thank you for your continued support and loyalty!
From: Sheila XXXXXXXX [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, November 08, 2013 3:08 PM
To: Chris Tzianabos
Subject: DirectTV negotiations
I was amazed and impressed to receive a call from Mr. Lombardo after calling Citadel Communications about the annoyance of having WLNE unavailable to me because I am a DirectTV subscriber – and equally impressed when you called to apologize for not responding to the email I sent you with regard to the same subject prior to my call to Citadel. I have subsequently called DirectTV several times since only to be given the same completely patronizing information about how WLNE is the culprit in the negotiations and blah, blah, blah – all of which you already have heard.
Today I made arrangements to end my 13 year relationship with DirectTV and am having Verizon FIOS installed next Wednesday – at which time I will get approximately 130 more HD channels than I now have; ALL of the network channels back again; no "pixeling" when I lose reception with a satellite dish due to inclement weather – AND a savings of approximately $30. per month with LOTS more channels – and no ugly satellite dishes on my old colonial farmhouse! Naturally, the agent for DirectTV tried to persuade me to stay with them and "be patient" – but I explained that I had been patient since October 17th and that being able to watch local programming on my favorite channel was much more important to me than "being patient" any longer with a huge, impersonal provider which doesn't update its website very often and offers no way to contact management to express a subscriber's opinion about their lack of honesty! I look forward next Wednesday afternoon to being able to see everyone I've missed on Channel 6 since October 17th and I'm sure my defection from DirectTV is just the tip of the iceberg!
Best wishes in your continued negotiations with DirectTV but it's good to know that there are other, better options out there and I plan to tell all of my.....clients.
November 8th, 2013 12:06 EST:
We had a conference call with DirecTV late on November 7. We have had well over a dozen such calls, and exchanged dozens of emails and proposals, since beginning formal discussions with DirecTV in regards to a new carriage agreement for WLNE-TV ABC6 in early August. We regret to inform you that no progress whatsoever was made in our latest attempt to break through the impasse. More than ever, we would encourage those viewers who happen to be DirecTV subscribers to explore other options to receive WLNE-TV ABC6: over-the-air via an antenna, by DISH Network, or by the many cable systems serving the Providence market. It appears increasingly likely that a resolution of this ongoing dispute is far off.
Allow us to once again explain the main issues that are keeping WLNE-TV ABC6 off the DirecTV satellite service. The core dispute between us involves two issues: (1) DirecTV's insistence on including digital rights in the new agreement when, in fact, those rights have yet to be granted to us by the ABC Television Network or any syndicated program provider; no other cable or satellite provider has ever put such excessive demands on us, and (2) whether DirecTV is willing to pay a fair, market-based rate for the right to re-sell the Station's signal for a profit.
Many viewers have contacted us to ask what "digital rights" are. In this context, it means the right to distribute the signal of WLNE-TV ABC6 over the Internet, a matter that is completely unrelated to the primary retransmission of our Station. It is infuriating to us that DirecTV continues to hold its subscribers hostage over a demand that we give them extraordinary rights no other satellite or cable company has ever demanded of us so that DirecTV can resell our signal on the Internet. Moreover, WLNE-TV ABC6 has yet to acquire such digital rights from the ABC Television Network in the first place -- a fact that DirecTV is well aware of.
As for the issue of fees, DirecTV continues to mislead customers with statements such as this one: "DirecTV must receive permission from the station's owner Citadel Communications to offer WLNE to our local customers, but Citadel is withholding that permission unless we commit customers to paying three times as much just to see the same over-the-air channel they've always had." This statement is demonstrably false and DirecTV knows it! Our latest fee ask is fully in line with the going market rate -- one consistent with those found in other agreements with DirecTV's competitors -- and it is not "three times" more than what DirecTV has been compensating us pursuant to the terms of the agreement which expired on September 30. We have asked DirecTV to correct this inaccuracy and apologize to both their customers and Citadel Communications for the error; they have stridently refused to do so.
In short, this dispute is completely unnecessary . . . but appears to be one DirecTV was intent on stirring up from the outset.
There are no additional discussions with DirecTV scheduled at this time. So, once again, we encourage those viewers who are DirecTV subscribers to explore other options to receive WLNE-TV ABC6: over-the-air via an antenna, by DISH Network, or by cable systems such as Verizon FiOS, Cox Cable, Comcast, Charter, or Full Channel.
We will continue to keep you updated on any new developments. Regrettably, we are not optimistic that we will have anything new to report in the near future.
November 1st, 2013 5:47 EST:
I would like to thank you for posting updates on your website. DirectTV has not even had the courtesy to do that and I have mentioned this to them, they are clueless. It is infuriating and frustrating that they are dragging this situation on, I do think it's time to move on from them. I am so fed up with the entire ordeal.
I wish I could figure out how to watch your programming without the darn satellite but so far I haven't figured out how to do that.
Thank you for your efforts,
Assume, for instance, you are selling a product to Company X and discover (a) Company X, based on publicly available information, is paying other companies a price 500% greater than the price it is paying you for a competitive product that is significantly less popular than yours, and (b) you believe, based on public information and current market conditions, Company X is paying others a price 300% greater than it is paying you for a comparable, competitive product, and (c) you are currently selling your product to competitors of Company X at a price 300% greater than Company X is currently paying you. Would you not, in those circumstances, consider it fair, reasonable and equitable to ask Company X to increase the price it pays you in order to bring that price more in line with the competitive market?
The above hypothetical is not unlike our negotiations with DirecTV. By any standard of fair play and fair competition, our proposal to DirecTV is reasonable. It is based on competitive market conditions. We have simply asked DIRECTV to pay us a fee more in line with (a) the amount we believe DirecTV is paying our competitors for significantly less popular channels, (b) the amount we believe companies such as DirecTV pays for other comparable broadcast channels, and (c) the amount DIRECTV's competitors are now paying us for our channels.
DirecTV's claim that we are asking for an unreasonable rate increase should be evaluated for what it is – a clever, but incomplete, characterization of the nature of our negotiations.
In addition to the fee issue, what DirecTV is not telling its subscribers is that it is making extraordinary demands on our Station that no other satellite or cable company has EVER made of our Station. Specifically, they are demanding digitals rights and terms that would go far beyond what we've agreed to with any other distributors. We have repeatedly explained to DirecTV that (a) we have yet to acquire those rights from the ABC Television Network or any of our major syndicated program suppliers, but that (b) if we and when we do, we'll gladly negotiate with them in good faith to extend those rights to DirectTV. The simple fact is that, for competitive reasons, we are anxious to extend those rights to all of the distributors with whom we deal as it's clearly in our mutual self-interests to do so.
All of this is what the DirecTV dispute is really about.
Tell DirecTV not to hold its subscribers hostage with its unreasonable rate approach and over-reaching demands related to digital rights. Out of concern and respect for their subscribers, they should work diligently to conclude the negotiation with WLNE-TV ABC6 in order that they can quickly reinstate service of our Station.
And please keep in mind, we offer our Station for free, over-the-air to viewers -- we only charge a fee to satellite and cable companies who resell our signals for their own profit. So watch us for free, over-the-air or switch to DISH or local cable companies such Cox or Comcast to receive our Station's popular programming.
October 17, 2013 1:44 EST:
As you may have noted previously, WLNE-TV ABC6 and DirecTV have been in negotiations for continued carriage of ABC6 on the DirecTV satellite service. Our current carriage agreement with DirecTV expired September 30, but in an effort to accommodate DirecTV and avoid a disruption of service to DirecTV satellite subscribers, ABC6 granted DirecTV an extension to October 15. That was followed up with a second extension through 1am tomorrow, October 18.
Unfortunately, our negotiations with DirecTV are at an impasse, and DirecTV satellite subscribers will no longer have access to ABC6 when the latest extension expires. However, ABC6 will continue to be available from local cable television systems such as Cox Cable, from the DISH satellite service, and for free over the air.
Satellite companies, like cable companies, mark-up the price they pay for local broadcast signals and re-sell those signals to their subscribers. ABC6, of course, must pay top dollar in a competitive market for its national network, syndicated, local news, sports, weather, and public service programming. The core dispute between DirecTV and ABC6 involves (1) the price DirecTV is willing to pay us for the right to re-sell the Station's signal and (2) DirecTV's insistence on including digital rights in the new agreement when, in fact, those rights have yet to be granted to us by the ABC Television Network or any syndicated program provider; no other cable or satellite provider has ever put such excessive demands on us.
DirecTV pays another, considerably less popular program provider more than 5 times the rate ABC6 is asking for the right to sell the Station's signal to its subscribers. Having paid top dollar for its highly rated programming, the Station's price proposal, in comparison to what DirecTV pays for less popular programming, is very fair and reasonable.
It is our hope the current impasse will be resolved and the disruption in service for DirecTV's subscribers will end. We will keep you informed of the progress of the negotiations. In the interim, however, you may wish to make plans for an alternative means of receiving the Station.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why will DirecTV stop retransmitting ABC6's signals?
The contract for carriage of WLNE-TV ABC6 by DirecTV expired on September 30. The latest in a series of extension agreements is about to expire and, so far, no new agreement is in sight.
2. Why has the contract not been renewed?
DirecTV refused to pay ABC6 a fair price or agree to other reasonable terms for the right to retransmit and resell the Station's signals to its subscribers. ABC6, in fact, gave DirecTV extensions of the existing carriage contract in the hope a new agreement could be reached. Regrettably, the latest extension has expired without agreement by DirecTV, and DirecTV will no longer have the right to carry ABC6.
3. But isn't DirecTV only trying to hold down the price it pays the Station and, in turn, keep down the price it charges its subscribers?
It is appropriate for DirecTV to minimize the price it pays for the privilege of reselling the signal of Stations such as ours to its subscribers. However, DirecTV, reportedly, pays five times more for significantly less popular program services than the price we are asking for our Station. DirecTV, a multi-billion dollar company, is, in effect, asking our Station to subsidize its operations which will enable it to pay more for other programming services with whom we compete for the best entertainment, sports and news programming. There are other unacceptable demands, aside from rates, that DirecTV is making which no other cable or satellite company has made or is making. In short, it would be irresponsible for us to subsidize DirecTV's cost of operation and grant it all the other financial benefits it is demanding.
4. But aren't you just asking DirecTV for more money to enhance your profits?
Absolutely not. We now have to pay our program suppliers -- including our broadcast network -- significantly more for highly rated sports and entertainment programming because cable and satellite companies are paying higher rates to our competitors who, in turn, will try to outbid us for the best programs.
October 15, 2013 5:39pm est:
This is a special update for ABC6 WLNE-TV viewers who subscribe to the DirecTV satellite service. We continue to work diligently with DirecTV to reach a new agreement—one that is fair and equitable. The parties have further extended the deadline to Thursday, October 17 at midnight by mutual agreement. We will keep you updated on the progress of our negotiations.
October 3, 2013 1:00pm est:
This is a special advisory for ABC6 WLNE-TV viewers who subscribe to the DirecTV satellite service. The carriage agreement which allows ABC6 WLNE-TV to be retransmitted by DirecTV in the Providence, RI/New Bedford, MA television market was originally set to expire at midnight on Monday, September 30; the parties extended the deadline to Tuesday, October 15 by mutual agreement. Regrettably, our negotiations with DirecTV have now reached a point where it appears unlikely that a new agreement will be reached prior to the latest deadline. In addition, it is our view that any further extensions would not be helpful to the negotiation process.
It is our sincere belief that the approach we've taken to these business discussions with DirecTV has been quite reasonable. We have sought to retain terms and carriage conditions commonly found in similar agreements successfully negotiated and currently in place with dozens of other cable and satellite providers. We are also asking DirecTV to compensate us fairly for the right to "re-sell" our programming. Please know that our request is a fraction of what DirecTV is paying other program providers who have no local ties to our community, and whose ratings are a fraction of ABC6 WLNE-TV's. The negotiation has been further complicated by DirecTV's insistence on new "digital rights" language that goes far beyond anything we've agreed to – or can agree to – with any other cable or satellite provider.
At ABC6 WLNE-TV, we value and respect the loyalty of our viewers. Please know that we will continue to work diligently to successfully resolve the open issues separating us and DirecTV, and we have communicated to them our willingness to "roll up our sleeves" between now and October 15 to get a new agreement in place -- one that is fair and equitable to both parties.
In the meantime, DirecTV subscribers should be aware they could lose the shows they love - - shows that they are paying for - - like ABC6 News, Dancing With the Stars, Modern Family, Grey's Anatomy, Shark Tank, ABC College Football, Queen Latifah, Katie, and Inside Edition…to name just a few. Importantly, DirecTV customers should know that ABC6 WLNE-TV will still be available free over-the-air, by cable or by the Dish Network.
We pledge to keep you updated on the progress of our negotiations.
For more information contact:
Chris Tzianabos John Methia
VP/General Manager Director of Broadcast Operations
Or by email: Or by email: