On the air, again

World Series returns to KAYU for DirecTV customers

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Lynn Tarbox watches the Major League Baseball World Series on Fox Thursday evening at his Coeur d'Alene home. Fox 28, who broadcasts the World Series, has been blocked from DirectTV customers since August due to a fee dispute between the companies.

COEUR d'ALENE - Word reached Robert Dobbins about 6:15 p.m. Thursday night: The World Series game between Detroit and San Francisco was on channel 28.

The Coeur d'Alene man quickly moved from the uncomfortable straight back chair in his bedroom, in front of the TV with a makeshift antenna, to his more spacious living room with recliners and couch and a large screen high-definition TV.

Much better.

"That's fantastic," he said as he settled down to cheer on his beloved Giants.

The return of the FOX network - channel 28 through Northwest Broadcasting's KAYU Spokane - to DirecTV was a pleasant surprise to local DirecTV customers.

They've been without FOX for about three months due to a price dispute between Northwest Broadcasting and DirecTV.

"We've always been willing to compensate Northwest fairly, but it's wrong for them to expect DirecTV customers to pay more for these channels than their neighbor across the street," according to DirecTV's website.

Apparently the sides reached some sort of an agreement Thursday, perhaps after hearing from many upset DirecTV customers who couldn't watch the World Series, and some college football games the past weekends.

The Press left messages with DirecTV and KAYU, but did not receive a response.

Whatever it took to strike a deal, Lynn Tarbox was a happy man Thursday sitting in his home watching the Series. He watched Wednesday's Series game from his neighbor's house.

Several friends called him and said KAYU was back on DirecTV after being off three months.

There was no immediate explanation or word if this was temporary or permanent, but that was fine with Tarbox.

"It's just on," he said. "I am astounded."

Tarbox has been a DirecTV customer for 15 years. He was upset when he couldn't watch sports on channel 28. Three months, he thought, was plenty of time to solve the dispute that he said has been tough on sports fans who missed some college football games on Saturdays, too.

"I would think they have an obligation to their customers," he said.

Dobbins has been watching channel 28 from his bedroom, where a stopgap antenna was attached to the TV.

"We are actually getting the games, but it's very touchy," he said, adding the antenna "was not very attractive."

He called DirecTV and KAYU to voice his displeasure. Reasonable people, he said, should be able to come to a business agreement.

"I assume this is about money," he said. "I sort of think they're both at fault."

Dobbins, a Giants fan since the 1960s, said it's important to be able to watch the World Series.

"You wait a lot of years to see your team in the World Series," he said.

Dobbins, while critical of KAYU, believed DirecTV signed a contract with him saying it would provide the local channels.

"In my view, they're not living up to that contract," he said.

Chris Belstler, another DirecTV customer in Coeur d'Alene, wrote in a protest letter, "While both sides have an excuse as to why each is the victim, the only victims are the viewers."

Belstler was glad to be watching the World Series on Thursday, and wondered if KAYU was back on DirecTV for good or just the Series.

Perhaps his letter of protest he sent to FOX was effective. He wrote:

"While I don't know all of the games going on, I do know that if KAYU was trying to work things out and really cares about its customers, they would allow their customers who are contracted with DirecTV to watch, at least the most American of all sports, the World Series. The upside is they would show they care and it would put more pressure on DirecTV."

Tarbox, while overjoyed with the return of KAYU, said there was a downside.

Between watching college and professional football and now the World Series, he said his marriage might suffer for a little while.

"Now my wife is really going to be mad," he said, laughing.

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