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Rural cooperative files suit against DirecTV

NRTC sez withheld cash creates 'uneven playing field'

WASHINGTON — The National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative late last week filed a second breach of contract lawsuit against DirecTV.

NRTC’s latest lawsuit alleges that the nation’s largest direct-broadcast satellite television provider has “unlawfully withheld tens of millions of dollars in launch fees and programming discounts that has created an uneven playing field for rural distributors of the DirecTV service to the detriment of rural consumers.”

In June the group filed suit against DirecTV, claiming the DBS operator denied it the right to distribute former U.S. Satellite Broadcasting programming, including HBO and Showtime, to its nearly 1.2 million subscribers.

NRTC prexy/CEO Bob Phillips said: “Ultimately, we decided we simply had to take this action to serve the best interests of our rural American customers — and in fact for all rural Americans. DirecTV is bent on leaving rural America behind with non-competitive prices.”

NRTC said the issue is “DirecTV’s refusal to fairly share the financial benefits the company reaps when it enters into distribution contracts with various television programmers for carriage of the programmers’ services on the DirecTV platform.

“Our contract is very clear on these issues,” Phillips said. “While DirecTV used to pay us at least a portion of our share of these financial benefits, it is now ignoring its responsibilities.”

DirecTV lawyers were reading the legal documents and a spokesman had no comment.

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