Citadel Communications Company has said no to DirecTV's
suggestion that the two parties settle their retransmission
consent differences through a third-party arbiter, saying there's still
time for the sides to work in good faith toward an agreement.
The parties are set to meet at 1:30 Central time today.
At stake are the signals for Citadel Communications' ABC
affiliate WOI Des Moines, ABC affiliate KLKN Lincoln (Neb.)
and CBS affiliate WHBF Davenport (Iowa),
which will presumably go dark for DirecTV subscribers at midnight on March 31
if an agreement for carriage is not worked out.
Citadel Communications President/COO Ray Cole says he's
available 24/7 to get the deal done. "There's plenty of time to successfully
complete negotiations," says Cole.
"We think it's outrageous that Citadel is asking for over a 100% increase in rate," countered DirecTV government affairs chief Susan Eid late afternoon Friday. "They're refusing to keep their signal up while we negotiate and refusing to discuss this with a third party. None of that suggests good faith on their part to me."
A key element of any retrans spat is the attempt by both sides
to win public opinion. Citadel has been running on-air crawls and "special
advisories" on its station sites informing viewers of the matter, and has
half-page ads in various local newspapers today.
DirecTV issued a statement earlier this week, saying it has
been negotiating "in good faith to try and reach a resolution and will continue
to do so."
Cole said the broadcaster and satellite operator had a
better chance of working out a deal before deadline without third parties'
involvement, as arbitration is time-consuming and, he felt, can make matters
DirecTV says the Citadel stations are demanding a 100% rate
increase. Cole says the stations' request for payment from DirecTV is "wholly
consistent with the going market rate" for retransmission consent.