DirecTV Files FCC Complaint Over Tribune Broadcasting Blackout

 

DirecTV is looking to put a swift end to the current blackout that's removed 23 local stations from its satellite cable service.

The company announced Monday that it filed a complaint with the FCC seeking an intervention in the current carriage dispute with Tribune Broadcasting. The provider, which has 5 million of its 32 million customers losing 23 affiliates in 19 cities, calls out Tribune's bankruptcy as reason for meditation.

A release from DirecTV details the complaint that accuses influence from DirecTV creditors -- Oaktree Partners, Angelo Gordon, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citibank among them -- as the motivator for reneging on the current deal. It also says that Tribune executives went back on assurances that they had the authority to broker a negotiation before eventually deferring to the creditors.

“Two days prior to expiration of the existing carriage arrangement, the parties reached an agreement in principle for continued carriage,” reads the complaint. “The following day, however, Tribune reneged on that agreement. Tribune later confirmed that its management had been overruled by the hedge fund and investment bank creditors.

The Tribune Company entered bankruptcy in Dec. 2008. When its reorganization is complete, it's three largest creditors -- JP Morgan Chase Bank; Angelo, Gordon & Co. and Oaktree Partners -- will control 30 percent of the voting and equity interests, though the FCC has yet to rule on the proposed transfers. Without a ruling, DirecTV's complaint suggests those banks don't yet have the authority to make to carriage decisions.

DirecTV costumers that lost coverage at midnight on Saturday include subscribers in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

The full complaint is at www.directvpromise.com.

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