For all you DirecTV subscribers who couldn’t watch the Olympics on WHDH-TV (Channel 7) – rejoice!
After weeks of negotiations and a blackout of the local NBC station, the two companies reached an agreement, returning the channel to subscribers around 10:07 Friday night.
“AT&T is pleased that Sunbeam Television has returned WHDH-NBC and WLVI-CW into our Boston customers’ line-ups so they are free to watch the Rio Olympics without any further inconvenience,” wrote Kate MacKinnon, a spokeswoman for DirecTV parent, AT&T Inc., in a statement. “Yet, we also believe these two stations should have never been taken away in the first place, and companies like Sunbeam must end these intentional blackouts and focus on putting their viewers first instead.”
Sunbeam Television Corp., which owns Channel 7 and WLVI-TV (Channel 56), wanted to raise fees for the satellite company, setting the stage for a dispute that has taken nearly a month to solve.
AT&T has insisted that Sunbeam wanted a “significant increase in their current fees just to allow the same families to keep watching shows that remain available for free over-the-air.”
In a letter sent to Sunbeam’s executive vice president and general manager Chris Wayland on Aug. 8, AT&T calls out Sunbeam for rejecting AT&T’s previous Aug. 4 offer, which would have returned NBC to subscribers just in time for the Olympics.
“We asked that you make available WHDH-NBC Boston so that our customers can view the Olympic Games while DIRECTV and Sunbeam continue to negotiate a carriage agreement. You rejected that request,” states the letter. “ As you know, DIRECTV is willing to enter into a retransmission agreement with Sunbeam for WHDH-NBC on terms that are fair and reasonable, and which takes into account the fact that WHDH will lose its NBC affiliation on January 1, 2017.”
The letter ends with AT&T stating their commitment to keep negotiating with Sunbeam, and a “ request again that Sunbeam make available the Olympic Games for Boston viewers, while we negotiate and you still have the right to broadcast the Olympics and NBC.”
Boston DirecTV viewers haven’t been able to watch WHDH via satellite since mid-July, when Sunbeam was unable to reach a contract with the satellite broadcaster.
The two companies never stopped negotiating.
During the blackout, DirecTV subscribers could catch the Olympic games on the internet.
“We are pleased that we were able to negotiate a new agreement so that DirecTV customers can once again view 7News, this week’s Olympic events, and all of the other network and local programming on WHDH and WLVI,” Paul Magnes, vice president and general manager of WHDH said in a statement Saturday.
DirecTV and Sunbeam had a similar spat in 2012. Sunbeam sought an increase in fees, which led to a two-week blackout of its stations on DirecTV. The dispute was settled shortly before the 2012 Super Bowl.
Priyanka Dayal McCluskey of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Michael Bodley contributed to this report.