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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why Are Some TV Channels Blacked Out By Cable And Satellite Companies?

In Miami, viewers missed out on the Golden Globe awards. In Corpus Christi, Texas, a dispute with Time Warner has blacked out NBC, Telemundo, and more.

And in Boston, subscribers to Direct TV can’t watch the local station owned by Sunbeam TV. That could be a problem on Super Bowl Sunday!

Dispute Behind The Blackouts

The blackouts are being caused by disputes between local TV channels and cable and satellite companies.

For example, in Boston, Sunbeam Television owns the local NBC affiliate, and they’ve failed to come to an agreement with Direct TV over retransmission rights– fees that cable and satellite providers pay to local affiliates. That means NBC is all static on Direct TV in the Boston area.

Members of Congress are urging the groups to come to an agreement. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry noted that this is the third year in a row that he’s written to the FCC about a retransmission dispute.

Last year, more than 30 markets had blackouts.


  • Alex Sherman, Bloomberg News

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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