Retrans battles are known for their gamesmanship, but Nexstar’s characterization of some of the Hill pushback on the ongoing retrans impasse with AT&T’s DirecTV drew the ire of one local paper, some MVPD fans, and, ultimately, some corrections.
CBS has sent the first shot across the bow in a widely watched carriage fight with AT&T and its DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-Verse pay-TV platforms. The media company said today that it is negotiating “resolutely and in good faith” with the AT&T units ahead of an 11 p.m. PT deadline on Friday.
The broadcaster says AT&T/DirecTV’s actions contrast sharply with its public commentary and cites eight broadcast groups currently without carriage resulting in a loss of service to consumers in 13 U.S. markets.
With the financial pressure on system operators, pitted against need for broadcasters to eventually achieve parity with the most-watched cable networks, retrans fights and blackouts are bound to sometimes happen. The sad reality is that in the short term everyone loses. Viewers lose their favorite programs, stations lose news viewers, DirecTV loses subscribers and station general managers lose their minds.
Legislators continued to turn up the heat in the ongoing retransmission consent battle between DirecTV and Nexstar Media Group, with representatives from seven states joining Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Tuesday in sending letters to DirecTV parent AT&T urging for an end to the blackout as it entered its fifth day.
Many DirecTV and AT&T U-verse subs awoke Thursday to find that Nexstar stations were no longer available. The broadcaster claims the stations were “abruptly removed” by the distributor, while AT&T said it had hoped to prevent a blackout and “even offered Nexstar more money to keep their stations available.”
AT&T Inc.’s DirecTV and Dish Network Corp., suffering the steepest subscriber losses in the pay-TV industry, are open to a merger and both companies believe such a deal could pass muster with U.S. regulators, according to people familiar with their thinking.
The retransmission agreement with AT&T/DirecTV to carry the stations recently expired and after several extensions AT&T/DirecTV and the station were not able to reach an agreement that allows for further carriage.
DirecTV is locked in a retransmission consent dispute with 17 small TV stations in 14 markets across the country that have gone dark to the satellite TV giant after attempts to hammer out a deal failed.