WAPA Puerto Rico and DirecTV at impasse over fees
SAN JUAN – Miami-based Hemisphere Media Group, which owns the WAPA TV station, said in its first-quarter financial results that it “reached an impasse in negotiations” with DirecTV in Puerto Rico regarding its retransmission agreement.
The deadlock resulted in the station not being broadcast for DirecTV customers on the island as of midnight, May 4.
Hemisphere said it “has engaged in extended negotiations with DIRECTV, but does not believe that DIRECTV is properly valuing WAPA and WAPA Deportes’ extraordinary lineup of news, sports and entertainment programming.”
AT&T, which acquired DirecTV, said in a statement that it wants “to get WAPA and WAPA 2 Deportes back into customers’ local lineups in Puerto Rico as soon as possible, but by law their owner Hemisphere Media has exclusive control over that.”
Hemisphere says it signed a new retransmission consent agreement with “another large pay television distributor in Puerto Rico, which is now paying fair market value for WAPA’s programming,” and that it “is hopeful that DIRECTV will follow suit and that the blackout will be short-lived.”
Meanwhile, AT&T argues that “Hemisphere is blocking WAPA and WAPA 2 Deportes…until it receives nearly double its current fees,” and that it is willing “to pay Hemisphere any new rates we eventually agree upon during whatever time it takes to work out” a new agreement.
“The fact is all the programs in WAPA and WAPA 2 Sports can be watched for free on channel 4 and, often, through wapa.tv, other Internet sites and the WapaTV and Noticentro.tv applications,” AT&T added. “We continue to ask Hemisphere to allow these customers to watch while we work this matter out privately. We need Hemisphere’s permission to bring WAPA and WAPA 2 Deportes back.”