DirecTV's Cedar Rapids customers may lose KGAN, KFXA in March

On-going negotiations may block March Madness for viewers

March madness might take on a whole new meaning if a dispute between a television broadcasting company and a satellite television provider continues into next month.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, which includes KGAN-CBS 2 and KFXA-FOX 28 in Cedar Rapids, informed viewers Monday that DirecTV is not expected to carry its stations after the existing retransmission contract expires at 2:01 a.m. CST on March 1. If no agreement is reached, it may prevent viewers from seeing NCAA basketball tournament games, which start March 21, on KGAN and other CBS affiliates in the Sinclair Group.

According to a statement posted on Sinclair’s web site, negotiations have been ongoing between the two sides, but “at this time it does not appear that these efforts will be successful.” The company went on to remind viewers about other ways to receive their stations.

DirecTV issued a statement of its own, accusing Sinclair of trying to scare viewers.

“These are the same unnecessary threats, posing as warnings, that Sinclair has made to frighten customers of other pay TV providers,” DirecTV said in a statement. “We will compensate Sinclair fairly, but our customers should not be forced to pay more than twice as much for the same programs that remain available completely free of charge over the air and online.”

Last August, Sinclair threatened to pull its stations off Dish Network. An agreement was reached in time to avoid a blackout.

Contract disputes between TV stations and cable and satellite TV providers have been more common in recent years. According to the American Television Alliance, there were 91 retransmission blackouts in 2012, up 78 percent from the previous year. The coalition has lobbied congress to change retransmission rules, which were adopted in 1992.

Most recently in Eastern Iowa, a retransmission agreement between KCRG-TV9, a member of The Gazette Company, and Dish Network expired Dec. 18, leading to a 38-day blackout.

In the DirecTV statement, it said customers should be assured that neither DirecTV nor Sinclair “has any intention of allowing the disruption of their local stations.”

View the Sinclair statement here: the DirecTV statement here:

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.