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DirecTV settles dispute with Sunbeam over blackout

Date January 26, 2012

LOS ANGELES, Jan 26 (TheWrap.com) - DirecTV and Sunbeam Entertainment have broken bread and ended the carriage dispute that caused customers in Boston and Miami to miss both the Packers-Giants NFL playoff game and the Golden Globes earlier this month.

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement to end the Sunbeam blackout, and regret that any of our customers were forced into the middle of a business dispute where they should never have been in the first place," DirecTV said in a statement Thursday. "We believe, like many, the public interest is best served by allowing customers to keep their local broadcast stations as we negotiate future agreements, rather than being denied access by broadcast stations and used as leverage in what should be a private business matter."

The statement added, "The Sunbeam-owned stations - WHDH and WLVI in Boston and WSVN in Miami - are now available for DIRECTV customers in those cities."

The disagreement between the two companies came to a head on January 13 when, unable to reach a deal with DirecTV, Sunbeam pulled its programming from the service. That left customers of Fox affiliate WSVN in Miami and viewers of CW affiliate WLVI and NBC affiliate WHDH, both in Boston, in the dark. In all, approximately 450,000 customers were affected.

Things got ugly on January 15, as both the Golden Globes and the playoff game prepared to air. Customers engaged in a mass Twitter protest throughout the Globes telecast. Meanwhile, Sunbeam rejected a request from DirecTV to air the football game despite the lack of a contract just prior to kickoff.

During the blackout, DirecTV issued a statement to its subscribers saying it was "working hard to bring back your local channel as quickly as possible" -- while adding that Sunbeam was trying to "extort a more than 300 percent fee increase to carry WSVN in Miami, and WHDH and WLVI in Boston."

DirecTV did not disclose the terms of the new agreement.

(Editing By Zorianna Kit)

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