Sept. 21--DirecTV or U-Verse customers who plan on watching the Chiefs take on the Los Angeles Chargers on KCTV-5 on Sunday afternoon might want to have a Plan B.
The local station and the cable TV providers, owned by AT&T, are nearing a deadline on a new contract. If they don't reach a deal, DirecTV and AT&T's U-verse will drop KCTV-5 from their offerings on Friday.
That puts the Chiefs game, and everything else people watch on Meredith Corp.-owned KCTV-5, in jeopardy.
The issue is how much the local station wants -- and the cable provider is willing to pay -- for the right to retransmit programming. KCTV-5 is a CBS affiliate, which means it gets to carry the NFL game. No KCTV-5, no game.
We don't know the details of the negotiations, but both sides are in spin mode.
"The rates that we are asking for from AT&T and DirecTV are far less than AT&T and DirecTV pay for niche cable networks from New York and Los Angeles that have lower viewership than our stations in this local market," says a statement posted on KCTV's website.
The station says it needs to be adequately compensated to produce local programming, such as news. It reminds viewers that AT&T and DirecTV charge customers for local programming on their monthly bill.
DirecTV has this to say on its website:
"Fewer people watch shows on local stations than ever before, but broadcasters continue to demand everyone pay more to get the few shows they do watch," the statement said.
"When contract disputes arise over station owners' unnecessary increases in what you should pay for these free over-the-air stations, DirecTV will never remove them from your lineup. Period. Station owners may try to avoid their responsibilities to you, but make no mistake: the station owners are the only ones who can decide to take away your local stations."
Such standoffs are not unusual. The current one is also affecting Meredith-owned local stations in other cities, such as Atlanta and Nashville.
In 2012, KCTV-5 and Time Warner Cable went to the brink before reaching a decision that avoided the local station and its sister KSMO from going dark on that cable provider. At the same time, an impasse between Time Warner and KMBC-TV caused that station and its sisters to go dark for nearly 10 days.
As current negotiations continue, KCTV-5 reminds viewers they can always watch its programs for free with an antenna.
Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC
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