DirecTV is taking its retransmission fight with Fox to the Federal Communications Commission. In a letter sent Thursday, DirecTV accuses Fox Broadcasting of resorting to "misleading advertising" that warns viewers they may "soon lose their local Fox TV station" when the contract that covers Fox's cable networks is up.
If a new deal is not reached between the two companies by midnight Oct. 31, Fox cable networks such as FX, National Geographic, and 13 regional sports networks could go dark on the satellite TV service. (Fox News Channel is not included in the cable networks agreement.) DirecTV's retransmission agreement with News Corp. for its 27 stations is up Dec. 31.
It's a nasty one-two punch by DirecTV.
In the letter, Derek Chang, DirecTV's executive vice president of content strategy and development, charges Fox with airing TV ads that show clips from Glee and NFL games, local programming that is not aired by the Fox cable networks affected by the current carriage negotiation.
"Fox has refused to provide us a separate offer for the continued carriage of its broadcast stations," Chang says. "Fox is clearly abusing the public trust by its deliberate attempt to confuse and alarm consumers. Such conduct is certainly not what the Commission had in mind when it made Fox a steward of the nation's airwaves entrusted to serve the public interest."
Though the FCC is often appealed to in these cases, the commission has said it can do little to force a resolution. Earlier this year the FCC proposed a rule that would govern how companies notify viewers in disputes but stops short of preventing blackouts.
Fox did not immediately provide comment.