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Lots of public response, but still no resolution for KXJB and DirecTV dispute

The removal of the local CBS affiliate from the region's DirecTV satellite cable systems has sparked a large response, the station's general manager said today, but negotiations to return the signal to DirecTV are still stalled.

"I've been on the phone pretty much all day talking with viewers," said Charley Johnson, general manager of KXJB, as well as local NBC affiliate KVLY. Johnson said he took so many calls from concerned DirecTV subscribers that his arm got tired holding the phone and he had to switch over to speakerphone.

The move takes the KXJB feed off the channel lineups of an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 DirecTV subscribers in the Red River Valley, Johnson said.

At issue is the contract allowing DirecTV to retransmit KXJB's signal, an agreement that expired Dec. 31. A spokesman for DirecTV has said the undisclosed per-subscriber fee KXJB is seeking is "nothing short of outrageous."

Johnson disputed that claim, saying their offer is similar to the fees paid by DirecTV, and its competitor Dish Network, to carry local stations in other cities. Johnson said no new proposals were exchanged Friday.