Q. How will this negotiation impact my monthly bill with DirecTV?

DirecTV can reach a deal with WISC-TV3 without raising its customers' bills because they have been charging customers for providing local stations for a long time (and for far longer than they have been compensating local stations for their programming).

WISC-TV3 is asking for a small fraction of what DirecTV charges its customers for local stations. Even if the other local stations in the market were all receiving the same amount of compensation we are asking for, that total would still not come close to what DirecTV collects from its customers. 

DirecTV re-sells our programming to you. We are simply asking for a fair amount of what they charge you. Again, they have been re-selling our programming to you for many, many years - long before they ever started compensating local stations.

Something else to consider: DirecTV has built a very profitable, global business by reselling programming provided by local stations and cable companies. Our Station is one of (if not the most) watched channels in DirecTV's lineup, yet DirecTV pays 2.5 to 7 times more money to national cable channels - none of which are watched as frequently as WISC-TV3 by a wide margin.

Q. Is WISC-TV3 making unreasonable demands of DirecTV?

No. What we are asking is fair.  WISC-TV3 has negotiated dozens of agreements with other cable and satellite providers--DirecTV has negotiated THOUSANDS of agreements. Both parties should know what's fair.

WISC-TV3 has agreements with ALL other operators in the market and our request for compensation from DirecTV is consistent with all of our other agreements. And, it is only a fraction of what you the customer are charged by DirecTV to receive our programming. DirecTV's PR firm will tell you we are asking for an "outrageous" increase. Please know that we are not asking for anything more from DirecTV than what we have asked from their competitors. DirecTV wants to pay far less than their competition and that isn't fair to either their competition or their customers.

In addition, what we are asking for is far below the rates DirecTV pays to national cable channels which are far less popular than WISC-TV3, have far fewer viewers, and provide no local news.

Q. It's really frustrated to keep hearing that both DirecTV and WISC-TV3 are willing to negotiate yet no deal gets done. Who am I to believe?

DirecTV re-sells our product to you. They have no base of operation here. Maybe the reason we've reached agreements with other operators who re-sell our product is because most, if not all of them, also have a base of operations in the local market. They know about our LOCAL product and valued it enough that we reached agreements without any of their customers ever knowing about it.

One of our biggest concerns in this negotiation is whether DirecTV places any value on the local programming provided by us. We know they value our network programming but show little interest in what we provide locally.

If that is DirecTV's position, we are genuinely concerned about getting a deal negotiated in any timely manner. If they don't value our "everyday programming", our everyday local news and community service, this may be the difference between what we think is fair and what DirecTV thinks is fair.

We need you to let DirecTV know that you value what we do in our local communities. This is not just about our national network shows like The Amazing Race, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and other popular programming like news, sports and major network events.

Here's another point to consider.

We produce a product, our programming, here in your community. Our product keeps you informed, gets you involved and sometimes even helps protect you in times of local emergencies. The people who produce that product are employed locally, some of which you may even know or see in the community. Our product creates local payrolls whose people consume goods and services in the local community, own homes and pay taxes. We are the people you invite into your homes each day for news and entertainment--we are the people you trust--people like Mark Koehn, Susan Siman and the rest of our team.

Q. Doesn't this just come down to money?

Everyone expects to be paid for the work they do. Our viewers rely on us to provide quality local reporting, to perform community service and to provide up-to-date coverage of the weather, emergency information, sports, elections, and other local issues. We also bring our viewers quality entertainment from CBS and other program providers. We must invest millions of dollars annually to do this--most of which goes into local wages, programming and technical improvements to serve our local community. Our agreements with operators such as DirecTV provide important support to our local operation. And again, DirecTV re-sells our programming to you. It's only fair that we receive a fair portion of the fee they charge you for our service.

Q. Why wouldn't the local TV station grant an extension of the negotiation period to the operator so its programming continues to be seen?

An extension IS often granted in situations like this as long as both parties feel good faith negotiations are taking place and a resolution appears likely. The key here is BOTH parties feel negotiations are going well. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Sometimes, the drastic step of program interruption appears to be the only appropriate action left to get the negotiation process back on track. We are keenly aware that viewers then become caught in the middle of the dispute. This is a bad outcome for both the station and the operator. 

Please believe us when we say this is always A LAST RESORT OPTION.

The two most common reasons a station would take the drastic step of withholding their programming are:

1- If the negotiation has been on-going for a long period (sometimes including extensions), the station may feel more than enough time has been spent discussing contract terms.

2- If the sides are just so far apart that resolution seems unlikely