While Grease Live! racked up 12.2 million viewers on Fox on Sunday night, U-verse subscribers in South Florida had to settle for rewatching a DVD of the 1978 John Travolta-Olivia Newton-John movie.
Eighteen days since the WSVN Fox-7 signal was abruptly yanked from the U-verse feed on Jan. 16, talks between their parent companies, Sunbeam Television Corp. and AT&T, over a new contract for rebroadcasting fees remain at a standstill.
“Negotiations continue,” said AT&T spokeswoman Kelly Starling via email on Monday. “By law, any cable or satellite or [Internet Protocol TV] provider like U-verse must have permission from the owner of any local broadcast station like WSVN to make it available to customers. Again, we have asked Sunbeam Television several times to allow our customers to have WSVN while we try to finalize this behind-the-scenes business agreement, but they continue to deny their U-verse viewers access to WSVN. We can have WSVN back into our customers’ home within moments of Sunbeam granting us permission.”
On Monday’s 10 p.m. news broadcast, WSVN aired a “Help Me Howard” consumer-advocate segment encouraging U-verse subscribers to install an antenna, call AT&T to request a credit on their monthly bill or cancel their contract and go with a different provider.
“We were hopeful that this situation would have been resolved by now,” said Chris Wayland, executive vice president and general manager of WSVN via email. “Unfortunately AT&T refuses to pay the established market rate that other cable and satellite companies are currently paying. It is our intent to come to a resolution so our viewers can watch WSVN on AT&T.”