Thursday, January 26, 2012

DirecTV and Sunbeam Work it Out!

Multiple sources are reporting that the dispute has been resolved.

I'd post the video announcement from WHDH, but I don't want to give them any clicks, nor do I wish to sully my blog with it.

Still not happy about it.  Don't appreciate being used as a pawn.  Don't appreciate my access to news and information being usurped by greedy corporations.  Nope, don't like it at all.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Patriots Super Bowl Game Blacked Out for DirecTV Viewers?

This is what I see when I turn the channel to 7 WHDH-Boston, our designated local NBC affiliate.
At midnight on January 14, 2012, Sunbeam Communications shut down its link to DirecTV for the stations WSVN (Channel 7 Fox Miami), WHDH (NBC Channel 7 Boston), and WLVI (The CW Channel 56 Boston).  The result is what you see above.  We first noticed it when we tried to tune in "Saturday Night Live."

Of course, SNL is one thing.  "The Office" and the Thursday night NBC shows are another thing. But there's this little sporting event coming up called THE SUPER BOWL, and that's an entirely different matter!  Not to mention the tiny fact that the New England Patriots are in it! 

So what's the issue?  Sunbeam reportedly wants the transmission fees paid to them by DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) increased by 300%. This is a private negotiation but Sunbeam has not denied that number, saying only that they are looking for "market value." 

Thousands of customers are affected in their homes, plus the numerous sports bars that rely on sporting events to draw customers. 

Here's what appears to be DirecTV's official original press release.  

It's strongly worded! As it should be! As this is one of the major broadcast networks, I consider this nothing less than an infringement on my rights as a consumer, and my rights as an American, in that the freedom of press, and my freedom of expression, are inhibited by a private dispute denying me access to a major news source.

We have complained to DirecTV on Facebook and Twitter, but clearly their customer relations staff have been instructed to follow a script: "We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you, and we will continue to work towards a swift resolution."

Sunbeam, for its side, is not a public-facing company and are clearly overmatched in this PR battle.  They have no Twitter, no Facebook, not even a web site! Worse, they have pulled the Ch. 7 news clip announcing the failed negotiations from the WHDH site. And they've deleted comments on the previous story. Near as I can tell from my research, the owner -- 73-year-old Ed Ansin -- is a crotchety "maverick" along the John McCain lines.  Frankly, they come off as extortionist thugs, holding the signal feed for ransom. 

Sunbeam did, to its credit, allow a temporary reprieve to let the signal go through for the Giants-49ers game yesterday. This gave us hope.  HOWEVER, according to a post on the protest Facebook page "WHDH Boston - DirecTV Negotiations," FOX Miami pulled the channel with 3 minutes left in overtime! Talk about a tease!

Because the situation has not yet been resolved, and because I believe the FCC will have to intervene, I have called Senator Jeanne Shaheen's (D-NH) office.  They were aware of the problem and took down my information. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) have already written letters urging the two to play nice and come to an agreement.

For my part, I'm turning up the heat as a disgruntled customer, blogging and Facebooking and Tweeting about it to anybody who will listen, and contacting local media outlets.  Yes, I know I can switch to Comcast, but we just upgraded to DirecTV HD over Christmas.  Yes, I know we can buy an antenna and get the signal that way.  But there is a principle here.  A customer paying over $100/month for television signals beamed directly from satellites should not have to buy a set of rabbit ears!  

Oh, and... GO PATS!  

Saturday, January 07, 2012

e-Coast Birthday Weirdness

OK, so a wicked head/sinus cold kept me from attending the 13th eBrew Birthday Bash. 

My dutiful and beautiful wife brought me some (Lemon Zinger) tea with (local) honey. 

The mug she chose for the job, totally at random mind you, was this one.

You can't make this stuff up!

Happy 13th Birthday e-Coast!  You're a teenager now.  Ugh!