Even though the Super Bowl is history, both sides in a contract dispute were blaming the other Monday as to why customers couldn’t watch the game via their local NBC affiliate.
According to a statement from Bret Picciolo, Charter’s northwest director of regional communications, Northwest Broadcasting Inc., which owns KIEM and KVIQ in Eureka, demanded a fee increase of more than 75 percent. When Charter asked for an extension so contract negotiations could continue through the weekend until after the Super Bowl, Northwest refused and pulled their programming, according to Picciolo.
On its website, www.northwestfairdeal.com, Charter states “we don’t think it’s fair that they are demanding huge fee increases, especially since their programming is provided free with a TV antenna and much of it is available for free on the internet.”
However, in a statement available at kiem-tv.com, Northwest Broadcasting’s president and CEO Brian Brady, said two weeks before the company’s contract with Charter was set to expire, a representative of the cable provider stated they would not counter Northwest’s recent proposal. This led Northwest representatives to believe that negotiations were done.
On Jan. 31, the contract’s expiration date, a Charter representative called Northwest Broadcasting and asked why they hadn’t responded to a proposal, according to Brady’s statement. The Charter representative claimed to have made a verbal proposal, but when challenged about the accuracy responded that he made it up, according to Brady’s statement.
Northwest offered to extend the contract deadline until 5 p.m. Friday and then again 5 p.m. Saturday when Charter offered a proposal that “needed work,” according to Brady’s statement. Charter asked to extend the deadline until Monday so their subscribers could watch the Super Bowl before they took the stations down, according to Brady’s statement.
“Perplexed by what they had said we repeated our offer to extend until Saturday at 5 and if we didn’t come to an agreement we would deal with an extension at that time,” Brady writes. “Their next response was ‘we are taking your station down in the next 10 minutes’ and they hung up the phone. We haven’t heard from them since.”
Brady said Northwest representatives responded to phone calls and emails from Charter subscribers late into the evening.