Local TV Stations Removed From DirecTV Amid Contract Dispute
As of 11:59 pm, on July 3rd, local tv stations owned by Nexstar Broadcasting are no longer available on DirecTV or AT&T U-verse. The current contract dispute is affecting 97 markets and over 120 tv stations across the country.
"The action follows DIRECTV ’s refusal to accept an offer of an unconditional extension of the existing distribution agreement to August 2" according to a press release from Nexstar Broadcasting. The statement goes on to say "following its 2015 acquisition by AT&T has dropped or threatened to black out network and local community programming from DISH Network, Viacom, SJL Broadcasting/Lilly Broadcasting, and others. Between May 30, 2019 and June 10, 2019 alone, viewers of at least 20 other non-Nexstar stations (owned by Deerfield Media, GoCom Media of Illinois, Howard Stirk Holdings, Mercury Broadcast Group, MPS Media, Nashville License Holdings, Roberts Media, Second Generation of Iowa and Waitt Broadcasting) lost access to network and local content as a result AT&T/DIRECTV’s refusal to accept fair market rates for the distribution of leading non-AT&T programming." In a response, citing what they call "The Nexstar Playbook", DirecTV/AT&T U-verse makes the claim that "Nexstar pulls or threatens to pull their stations from the customers of TV providers to increase fees for stations far beyond their value. They’ve done it to Cox Cable, DISH, and Charter Spectrum, and now they’re doing it to us.
The four major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) have together lost about half their primetime audience over the past few years. Despite this, Nexstar is demanding the largest increase that AT&T has ever seen from any content provider.
By asking us to pay even for viewers who choose to receive Nexstar stations for free over the air or through other means, Nexstar is also reducing consumer choice. For a company seeking to become the largest broadcaster in America, this is behavior that should not be rewarded."
Despite placing the blame on eachother, both Nexstar and DirecTV U-verse say that they hope to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Viewers of stations affected by this disruption can still watch via over the air antenna, Spectrum, and some streaming services.
Local stations affected are: WFXV in Utica, and WTEN in Albany.