DirecTV Takes News Corp. Cable Networks Dispute to FCC

3:23 PM PST 10/27/2011 by Georg Szalai

The satellite TV giant complained in a letter to the government agency that the entertainment conglomerate has used "misleading advertising" claiming that consumers could soon lose access to their local Fox station.

NEW YORK - Satellite TV giant DirecTV has taken its carriage dispute with cable networks that are part of News Corp. and its Fox Cable Networks unit, including FX, National Geographic and 19 regional sports networks, to the FCC.

In a Thursday letter to William Lake, the head of the FCC's Media Bureau, the company said that 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.”  

DirecTV has only threatened to stop carrying the News Corp. cable networks if an agreement is not reached by Nov. 1, while News Corp. has looked to bring together its various carriage deals, including for its broadcast stations, into one agreement.

"Fox is clearly abusing the public trust by its deliberate attempt to confuse and alarm consumers," DirecTV executive vp, content strategy & development Derek Chang said in the FCC letter. "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."

His argument also turned to the issue of money, with Chang saying Fox demanding big increases.

The letter added: "DirecTV still hopes to arrive at a fair agreement with Fox before its subscribers are deprived of any programming. In the meantime, we have demanded that Fox immediately stop running advertisements that mislead consumers by suggesting that DirecTV subscribers may not be able to receive Fox broadcast stations."

A Fox representative didn't immediately comment.

Cablevision Systems in a big programming dispute with Fox late last year also tried to bring the FCC into the showdown.
 

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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