AT&T/DIRECTV blacks out local TV stations

Fox 24

Update: IRVING, Texas (News Release)– Viewers across the United States have expressed their outrage at AT&T/DIRECTV following their removal of scores of local Nexstar Broadcasting television stations which began on the Fourth of July. For example, as a result of AT&T/DIRECTV’s actions, AT&T/DIRECTV subscribers in Bakersfield, California were unable to receive local Nexstar televised news updates, in both English and Spanish, regarding the large earthquake there.

At present, Hawaii is bracing for severe weather as Hurricane Barbara tracks across the Pacific.  Nexstar’s KHON, the number one television station in Honolulu, is providing constant updates on weather models and local conditions.  Although it appears Hurricane Barbara will not be a direct hit—torrential rain and severe thunderstorms are expected to begin on Monday and continue for three days.  AT&T/DIRECTV serves the majority of the TV households on the Big Island where the storm is expected to be the worst and viewers need KHON for important weather and safety updates.  Similarly, a Louisiana viewer of Nexstar’s local stations that is highly concerned with the AT&T/DIRECTV blackout noted, “We in Louisiana are in the middle of hurricane season – WE NEED OUR LOCAL STATION!  We pay enough money to have this service – BRING OUR LOCAL STATION BACK!”

Yesterday alone viewers were also denied access to over 530 hours of local news.  Consumers are also complaining about missing their favorite network affiliated shows, the Annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks event that celebrates the nation as well as over 20 home-town Fourth of July events that Nexstar stations produced specifically for their local markets.  This Sunday, July 7, affected AT&T/DIRECTV viewers will be unable to watch the US Women’s National Soccer Team’s historic World Cup finals game, an event which has drawn growing national interest as the success and personalities of team USA seeks their fourth title.

Nexstar has been negotiating in good faith to establish a mutually agreeable contract with AT&T/DIRECTV and has offered AT&T/DIRECTV the same rates it offered to other large distribution partners with whom it completed successful negotiations with in 2019 to date.  Over the past 20 months alone, Nexstar has successfully renewed more than 390 distribution agreements with cable providers for the carriage of Nexstar’s stations.  Nexstar would like to continue to try to reach a fair agreement with AT&T/DIRECTV and allow its viewers to receive their local stations again.

AT&T/DIRECTV is routinely involved in disputes with content providers and following its 2015 acquisition by AT&T, DIRECTV has dropped or threatened to black out network and local community programming from 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.

Unfortunately, AT&T/DIRECTV did not accept Nexstar’s offer for an extension which would have allowed viewers in the affected markets to view their favorite network shows, special events, sports, local news and other programming on the Fourth of July and until such time as a new agreement can be reached. Contrary to AT&T’s public statements, Nexstar in no way pulled its stations or asked for their removal from AT&T/DIRECTV’s DIRECTV, U-verse or DIRECTV NOW platforms.  Nexstar is also reiterating its offer of an unconditional extension of the existing distribution agreement for 30 days to restore the blacked-out programming to viewers and allow the parties to reach a new agreement.

Consumers and viewers affected by AT&T/DIRECTV’s blackout can contact AT&T/DIRECTV directly at 208 South Akard Street, Dallas, TX 75202 and by phone at 855-567-1569 or 210-821-4105.

Original post: DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse subscribers no longer have access to KNWA as AT&T and DIRECTV did not accept our extension for continued coverage of KNWA during our contract negotiations to avoid disruption of service. Contact DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse today at 855-937-9469 and demand that they “Bring back my KNWA Northwest Arkansas News!” 

DIRECTV / AT&T U-verse Customer Service – 855-937-9469 

Q: What is happening?

A: DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse subscribers no longer have access to KNWA station as of midnight CST on July 3, 2019. DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse did not accept a contract extension offer by Nexstar Media, the parent company of KNWA, for the right to continue to air your favorite news stories around the Northwest Arkansas area. By rejecting an extension for continued negotiations and to avoid a disruption of service, AT&T and DIRECTV took away content that you pay for and was included with your monthly subscription. They are no longer providing the content you initially signed up for when you subscribed to their service. 

Q: What other programming could I miss?

A: You no longer have access to your local news, Good Day NWA, emergency service updates, and your favorite shows such as America’s Got Talent, This is Us, and The Voice. 

Q: Where will KNWA programming still be available?

A: No other cable or satellite company is affected; only DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse customers have had their favorite news, comedies, dramas, and sports taken away. Unfortunately, we are not alone in this as AT&T and DIRECTV have removed various other stations across the nation in the past. Among the other providers available that see the value in local content include DISH (855-898-6730) and your local cable company. 

Q: Are you still negotiating with AT&T and DIRECTV?

A: We were negotiating and offered to extend our current deal multiple times while we vigorously attempted to provide both sides more time to reach a fair agreement. In the time leading up to the expiration of the agreement with DIRECTV/AT&T, Nexstar not only offered an extension until August 2, it also offered DIRECTV/AT&T its availability “over the next 30 days to meet with you in person on the following dates: July 12, 13, 14, 15, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 as well as August 1 and 2” adding, “We are willing to dedicate as many of these dates as needed. Not knowing when you and your decision makers are available, to avoid any disruption in service to your customers and our viewers in 97 markets across the country, we propose an extension of the current agreement through Friday, August 2nd.” This extension was not accepted. 

Q: Is this abnormal for AT&T and DIRECTV to remove local programming from their lineup?

A: DIRECTV is routinely involved in disputes with content providers and following its 2015 acquisition by AT&T, it has dropped or threatened to black out various network and local community programming. 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. 

Q: What can I do about this situation?

A: You have choices and should take action. Call 855-937-9469 and demand they bring back your favorite local news source! You can also contact other local providers – including DISH (855-898-6730) – and switch to make sure you are treated fairly and get the programming you want. Don’t let your video provider dictate what you watch! Demand they bring back the local station and content you want and deserve!

IRVING, Texas (News Release) – Effective 11:59 p.m. local time on July 3, direct broadcast satellite service provider DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse unilaterally dropped the network and local community programming for over 120 stations impacting consumers and viewers in 97 markets across the United States.  The action follows DIRECTV ’s refusal to accept an offer of an unconditional extension of the existing distribution agreement to August 2 to allow the stations’ owner, Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc. (“Nexstar”) and DIRECTV/AT&T to reach a new agreement allowing the direct broadcast satellite service provider (as well as AT&T’s U-verse systems and its’ subscription streaming television service, DIRECTV NOW) the right to continue to air the highly rated programming.

With its long-term record of delivering exemplary service to the local markets where it operates, Nexstar deeply regrets DIRECTV/AT&T’s rejection of the extension as it deprives viewers in the affected markets of broadcasts of leading network content from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CW, and MyNetworkTV as well as local news and other programming produced specifically for these local communities. Viewers affected by the loss of service from DIRECTV have several alternatives to continue watching their favorite shows including local cable providers, DISH, over-the-air, certain subscription streaming television services, and services such as Verizon’s FIOS.

The development is highly unusual for Nexstar but far more common for DIRECTV/AT&T.  Nexstar has established a long-term record of completing hundreds of agreements with multichannel video programming distributors (“MVPDs” or cable TV, satellite TV, telecom companies) for the carriage of its television stations and is proud that it has never in its 23-year history had a service interruption related to distribution agreements of the magnitude of the AT&T/DIRECTV interruption.   In contrast, DIRECTV is routinely involved in disputes with content providers and 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.  Notably, in addition to its ownership of DIRECTV, the nation’s largest direct broadcast satellite service provider, in 2018 AT&T acquired Time Warner including global media and entertainment giants Warner Bros., HBO, Turner and CNN. 

Nexstar has been negotiating in good faith to establish a mutually agreeable contract with DIRECTV. Significantly, Nexstar has offered DIRECTV the same rates it offered to other large distribution partners with whom it completed successful negotiations with in 2019 to date.  While Nexstar believed progress was being made in the negotiations, DIRECTV misled Nexstar as it requested that viewers not be informed about the pending expiration as long as negotiations were continuing to be constructive.  Yet, with minutes to go before the prior agreement was to expire, DIRECTV/AT&T did not accept Nexstar’s offer for an extension which would have allowed viewers in the affected markets to view their favorite network shows, special events, sports, local news and other programming on the Fourth of July and until such time as a new agreement can be reached. A little more than a year after putting DIRECTV together with Time Warner, AT&T appears intent on using its new market power to prioritize its own content at the expense of consumers, and insisting on unreasonable and extreme terms that are totally inconsistent with the market. In January, AT&T raised prices on DIRECTV and in April it put through a price increase for its streaming subscription service, DIRECTV NOW. 

Nexstar remains eager to complete an agreement with DIRECTV consistent with those it has made with every other cable, satellite and telco provider in order to end DIRECTV ’s action that is both unnecessary and punitive to its subscribers.  In this regard, in the time leading up to the expiration of the agreement with DIRECTV/AT&T, Nexstar not only offered an extension until August 2, it also offered DIRECTV/AT&T its availability “over the next 30 days to meet with you in-person on the following dates:  July 12, 13, 14, 15, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 as well as August 1 and 2” adding, “We are willing to dedicate as many of these dates as needed.  Not knowing when you and your decision makers are available, to avoid any disruption in service to your customers and our viewers in 97 markets across the country, we propose an extension of the current agreement through Friday, August 2nd.”  This is the customary process when negotiations for distribution rights are not completed when the current agreement expires. The only conclusion that can be drawn from DIRECTV/AT&T’s refusal to accept Nexstar’s offer of an extension is that rather than working on behalf of their subscribers, AT&T-DIRECTV continues to raise prices while reducing channels and content offerings.

Nexstar is highly committed to consistently elevating the level of service provided to local communities in the markets it serves across the United States by making meaningful capital investments to expand local news, lifestyle, sports, weather and other programming and enhancing station infrastructure, production resources and technologies.  Nexstar regrets that DIRECTV is willing to hold its paying subscribers hostage because it won’t agree to fair and reasonable terms for viewers’ favorite programming.

Consumers and viewers affected by DIRECTV/AT&T’s blackout can contact DIRECTV/AT&T directly at 208 South Akard Street, Dallas, TX 75202 and by phone at 855-567-1569 or 210-821-4105.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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