Nearly eight months after KSL-Channel 5 was removed from DirecTV, the two sides have finally settled their dispute. The NBC affiliate returned to the satellite provider’s lineup late Thursday.
“We are so grateful to our … viewers who stuck with us,” tweeted KSL vice president and general manager Tanya Vea. “Happy to be back on DirecTV!”
The two sides had already spent several months negotiating over how much KSL would be paid for its signal when the station went dark on DirecTV back on Aug. 14. Since legislation that went into effect in 1992, cable and satellite providers have been required to obtain the permission — retransmission consent — of broadcast stations to carry their signal. And that permission is generally comes after the satellite/cable company agrees to pay for it.
Channel 5 insisted that DirecTV refused to pay it what it’s worth; DirecTV claimed that KSL’s demands for compensation were unreasonable and would force it to increase customer rates. Neither side released any details about the financial arrangement.
It was the sort of standoff that happens between cable/satellite systems and broadcast and cable channels frequently. And it was the second time that KSL had been off DirecTV in three years — Channel 5 was unavailable for three weeks in August-September 2015.
What made this latest outage unusual was how long it lasted. Most such disputes are resolved in days or weeks; eight months is almost unprecedented.
(Although DirecTV has never reached an agreement with the Pac-12 Network, which launched more than 6½ years ago.)
The two sides also couldn’t agree on who was at fault. KSL blamed DirecTV, and DirecTV told its subscribers that it “will never remove” a local station “from your lineup. Period” — asserting that it would have continued to carry Utah’s NBC affiliate while negotiations were underway and that KSL pulled out to apply pressure.
The new agreement means that DirecTV subscribers in Utah once again have access to NBC programming and KSL’s local news. It comes on the eve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints General Conference — although DirecTV subscribers couldn’t see the last General Conference in October on KSL.