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DIRECTV: Programmers Are Picking On Us!
(August 3, 2012)
-- DIRECTV yesterday complained that programmers such as Viacom
are 'picking on' them to try to set higher market rates to carry
The satcaster recently settled a contentious fee fight with Viacom, which forced 26 Viacom channels off its airwaves for almost 10 days. Still sounding bitter over the dispute, DIRECTV CEO Mike White told a group of Wall Street analysts yesterday that programmers are trying to force his company to pay higher than normal rates to carry their channels. The reason: If DIRECTV, which has more pay TV subs than anyone except Comcast, pays a higher rate, other TV providers will be pressured to do so as well.
"I mean we've had issues with several (programmers) as you know. It seems like perhaps because of our size, we get picked on to try and reset the market more often than I think is appropriate," White said in the conference call which followed the company's second quarter financial release.
But the DIRECTV executive maintained that he will not overpay to carry any channel because it would mean higher bills for his customers.
"I continue to believe that all of us in this industry both on the media side and on the distributor side need to spend a little more time in the customer's home in understanding what's happening with their incomes in this economy. Because the customer at the end of the day is the one who is getting squeezed and bearing the brunt of these exorbitant price increasing demands that are just not sustainable. We are going to continue to stand up and put the customer first," White said.
DIRECTV's next likely carriage showdown will be with CBS; the satcaster's CBS agreement expires at the end of the year.
"We don't get into kind of going through every contract with you guys and I'm not going to do that here," White said. "We’ve got one other large one, I think it’s pretty public, and that is our CBS deal which we are in the middle of renegotiating but I'm very optimistic. We’ve had very good conversations and I think all we’re trying to do is get a very fair deal for our customers and I am very optimistic that that will be wrapped up and we won’t have any significant issue on that one."
White was also asked about the upcoming Pac-12 Network, which will air Pac 12 college football and basketball games. The executive refused to commit to carry the channel.
"Sports is an important part of DIRECTV but frankly we have to be disciplined in that area too, just like we are on the entertainment side. So I think we’ll have to see," he said.
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