Update on Fox-Direct TV contract dispute
October 21, 2011
John Ourand of the Sports Business Daily/Journal has followed up a report on the Fox-Direct TV contract dispute. The two parties have now drawn lines in the sand which has Direct TV threatening to pull Fox channels on November 1.
Late Thursday night Fox released the following statement (obtained via John Ourand’s twitter)
Despite Fox Networks’ offer of an extension during our ongoing negotiations, DirecTV has informed us and their customers that unless we agree to their demands, they “will suspend our networks on November 1.”
DirecTV sent us a proposal on Tuesday afternoon. They have given us no chance to respond before taking an unnecessarily aggressive posture and going public. It is disappointing that they have chosen bad faith tactics over meaningful negotiation.
We have proposed to keep the Fox Networks on DirecTV for the same price, and on the same terms as they are currently carried while we attempt to work out a fair agreement. Unfortunately, DirecTV has decided that unless they get their way, they are going to pull the plug on their customers November 1.
The following is Direct TV’s response (via Ourand’s twitter):
After months of making little progress in our talks with News Corp and Fox to renew our agreement to carry their regional sports networks and other national channels we’ve regrettably reached a point where we will be forced to suspend the channels as soon as Nov. 1 unless News Corp is willing to move toward a more reasonable price increase.
They are currently asking our customers to pay 40% more for the exact same Fox channels that they already receive and that’s simply unfair and unwarranted. We hope to resolve this situation before any action is taken, but we will do what’s necessary to protect our customers from excessive and unwarranted fee increases. We already provide News Corp nearly a billion dollars a year for their channels, and we have no problem continuing to compensate them fairly.
Note: Fox broadcast stations and Fox News are not affected at this time
Fox contract ends December 31, 2011 while Fox News contract ends January 31, 2012.
Fortunately for the UFC, the Fox network will not be affected for its big “UFC on Fox” event November 12th. However, the dispute could affect its future programming on Fox networks. Why? Direct TV has 19 million subscribers and is the second biggest distributor in the US. A prolonged dispute between Fox-Direct TV could negate UFC momentum of promoting its brand on Fox networks. With UFC programming set for Fox cable networks like FX and Fuel, many of the casual viewers will not see the UFC with its new network partners. In fact, the dispute could be beneficial to Spike TV which could go heavy into airing the UFC library during this time. As we’ve pointed out, this could lead to future viewer confusion once Fox-Direct TV come to terms. We will continue to monitor to see if Fox cable networks goes dark on November 1st.