If you’ve watched sporting events on Fox in the last week, you’ve likely spotted an ad from News Corp. alerting DirecTV customers that “soon, in some markets, you may lose your local Fox station” as a result of the ongoing contract dispute between the broadcaster and the satellite company. But these TV spots aren’t going over well with the folks at DirecTV who have complained to the FCC that Fox is misleading customers.
In the letter sent Thursday to the FCC, DirecTV points out that while the deadline for hammering out an agreement regarding retransmission of numerous Fox cable stations is Nov. 1, the existing retransmission consent agreement for Fox’s broadcast channels doesn’t expire until Dec. 31.
From the letter to the FCC:
Fox, however, is running advertisements asserting that DIRECTV viewers “soon could even lose” the Fox broadcast stations in their local markets. One such advertisement ran in the widely-circulated Los Angeles Times editions for Sunday, October 23, a copy of which is attached hereto. In addition, Fox’s television advertisements on its local broadcast stations state that viewers could lose local channels (showing clips from Glee and NFL games) that are not subject to this agreement.
Ironically, at the same time it is airing these warnings, Fox has repeatedly refused to provide us with a separate offer for carriage of the Fox broadcast stations.
On the one hand, Fox has refused to negotiate in good faith for carriage of the broadcast stations. At the same time, it is informing DIRECTV customers that they may soon lose access to such stations, purposely conflating a potential November 1 deadline for cable programming with the additional loss of broadcast programming the delivery of which is assured through the end of the year. Fox is clearly abusing the public trust by its deliberate attempt to confuse and alarm consumers. Such conduct is certainly not what
the Commission had in mind when it made Fox a steward of the nation’s airwaves entrusted to serve the public interest.
Here is one ad that News Corp is running on KeepMyNets.com, the site it set up to cover its slap fight with DirecTV: