Bar owner and DirecTV subscriber Chris Simonsen said losing the ability to watch Utah Jazz games on his satellite-enabled TV is both a blessing and a curse.
On New Year's Eve, satellite provider DirecTV cut the feed to KJZZ Channel 14, the local home station of the Jazz, in a money dispute. DirecTV subscribers suddenly were without the ability to view Jazz games on the channel. Twelve of the team's remaining 47 games this season, including Wednesday's matchup with New Orleans, will be televised on DirecTV.
The other games will air on FSN and national cable channels that DirecTV carries.
As the owner of Lumpy's on Highland Drive in Salt Lake County, Simonsen says his bar is one of the few in town that carry both DirecTV and Comcast; therefore, he'll be able to show the Jazz at his bar through Comcast.
But he only subscribes to DirecTV at home. "l'll have to come to the bar to watch," he said. "It's good and bad."
On Monday, KJZZ general manager Chris Baum said he has been trying to contact DirecTV to continue negotiations and get his station back on the satellite provider, but so far there has been no headway. And viewers are expressing their frustration.
"We're receiving a lot of calls at the station, people calling in and expressing their concern about missing their programming," he said. "Over 220 people called on Friday alone. We have three or four people just answering phones now, and they're busy."
According to Baum, the station and DirecTV have been negotiating the terms of their contract since last March. A DirecTV spokesman was unavailable for comment Monday.
During the last contract, DirecTV had been broadcasting KJZZ with no money changing hands. Now, the station wants to be paid because other providers, including Comcast and Dish Network, have been paying to air the station. DirecTV said the price is too high and has been trying to negotiate a lower fee. Things came to a standstill, and DirecTV shut off the signal at the end of the year.
Missing a dozen Jazz games is not the only thing at stake in this dispute. KJZZ also is the sole rights holder to broadcast Utah State and Weber State university games. Baum said that includes about eight USU and three or four WSU basketball games.
Other popular original programming on KJZZ includes a Sunday series profiling the Joseph Smith Papers Project and KUTV's nightly 9 p.m. newscast.
Baum estimates that 15 percent to 20 percent of Utah's 919,000 television households are DirecTV subscribers.