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DirecTV, Channel 7 owner settle fee dispute

Deal clears way for thousands to see the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is back on for more than 200,000 Greater Boston subscribers to DirecTV.

The satellite provider and Sunbeam Television Corp., owner of Boston’s WHDH-TV (Channel 7) and WLVI-TV (Channel 56), settled their two-week dispute yesterday.

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Sunbeam had blacked out its stations on the satellite service on Jan. 14 over “retransmission consent fees,’’ which cable and satellite companies pay to TV stations they carry.

Such fees for broadcasters generally range from 45 cents to $1 per subscriber per month, and Sunbeam wanted a raise. Terms of yesterday’s agreement with DirecTV were not disclosed.

The dispute left DirecTV’s local subscribers without access to NBC and the CW network programming. Sunbeam had also blacked out station WSVN-TV, a Fox affiliate it owns in Miami, where the company is based.

“Negotiations were difficult, but we are pleased with the outcome,’’ Chris Wayland, general manager of WHDH and WLVI, said in a statement. “We are especially delighted that all our viewers will now be able to see NBC’s telecast of the Super Bowl as well as our own extensive coverage from Indianapolis.’’

DirecTV officials released a statement saying, “We are pleased to have reached an agreement to end the Sunbeam blackout, and regret that any of our customers were forced into the middle of a business dispute where they should never have been in the first place.’’

Sunbeam stations in Boston and in Miami returned to DirecTV shortly after 6 p.m. yesterday.

“It’s great news for us,’’ said Patrick Murphy, general manager at The Four’s bar and restaurant in Boston, which has 44 TV sets on the DirecTV service, and where the Feb. 5 Super Bowl is expected to draw a big crowd.

Worried about a potential loss of that business, the restaurant’s managers were considering subscribing to another TV service until the news came that the blackout was over.

“It makes life a lot easier for us,’’ said Murphy.

Senator John F. Kerry, who had urged Sunbeam and DirecTV to reach a resolution, applauded the restored service.

“The real winners tonight are Pats fans, who won’t be shut out from watching the biggest game since the last time the Pats and that other team from New Jersey faced off in a Super Bowl,’’ Kerry said in a statement. “I’m grateful that cooler heads prevailed and that satellite service will not be interrupted on Super Bowl Sunday.’’

Johnny Diaz can be reached at jodiaz@globe.com.
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