Ion, DirecTV Reach New Carriage Agreement

May 3, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Ion Media Networks, the former Paxson Communications, said Wednesday that it reached an agreement with DirecTV Group that keeps the network on the satellite company’s channel lineup through 2011.

As part of the pact between the two companies, all pending litigation was settled.

“This agreement is an important step in reinforcing our network’s strong distribution position both nationally and locally, and we look forward to building on our relationship with DirecTV and its customers in the years to come,” said Brandon Burgess, Ion’s CEO.

The DirecTV-Ion dispute is one of many battles being waged between television networks and video distributors such as cable and satellite operators over channel carriage. While many end with a resolution, others have escalated to the point of channels being yanked off of a cable or satellite company’s channel lineup.

DirecTV in January had sought to terminate its affiliation contract with what was then Paxson, arguing that a move made last July to change the name of the Pax TV network to “i” constituted a significant change in the type of programming that DirecTV had agreed to carry on its system.

If DirecTV had followed through on its plan to yank the channel from its lineup, Paxson, which changed its name to Ion last month, said, it would have lost about 5.5 percent of its U.S. prime-time household audience. However, the company said in 2008 it would look to recapture what was lost, when it would be eligible to require the satellite company to carry the network as part of “must-carry” rules.