The station group and owner of DirecTV and U-Verse cannot come to terms on a new retransmission consent pack and so exchanging harsh words on their website in battle for hearts and minds of consumers.
AT&T, Meredith Knocking Heads Over Retrans
Satellite Business News — Meredith Corp. is the latest broadcaster to jump into the retransmission consent fire with video services.
The well-known media company, which is also publishes of a number of high-profile magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens, began notifying the viewers of its local broadcast stations that the retransmission consent agreements with AT&T’s DirecTv DBS and “U-verse” wireline video services are scheduled to expire tonight.
Meredith’s website states the company owns or operates 17 TV stations around the nation. Many of the stations are in larger TV markets: Atlanta, Phoenix, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Nashville, Kansas City and Portland.
In statements posted on its local stations’ websites, Meredith claims it does not “know AT&T and DirecTV’s plans” regarding the stalemate.
Meredith said it “has been trying for months to get AT&T and DirecTV to negotiate seriously. AT&T recently purchased DirecTV and is in the midst of buying Time Warner for $85 billion dollars.
“[The local Meredith stations] may not be as important to AT&T and DirecTV as it was when AT&T and DirecTV were far smaller. But we believe [the stations are] just as important to [viewers] no matter how large [their] video [service] is.”
Meredith also claimed it “has successfully reached fair agreements with every major cable and satellite [TV] company. Without fair and equitable treatment, local TV stations will not be able to continue to provide the top quality news, sports, entertainment, and other local programming that is most important to [viewers].”
The broadcaster also claimed, “Recently, certain cable and satellite companies (which don’t invest in local programming) have waged an aggressive lobbying effort urging the government to weigh in on these private, market-based negotiations in an attempt to avoid fairly compensating broadcasters, who produce the highest-rated content on television.”
On the website it operates regarding retransmission consent disputes, DirecTV posted the same boilerplate language it uses during similar impasses.
“We want to keep [the Meredith stations] in [the subscriber’s] local line-up. Doing so requires permission from its owner, Meredith Corp., since FCC rules grant [the stations] exclusive control over whether that station remains available on DirecTv. Meredith is currently threatening to block [its local stations] from reaching [the subscriber] home unless Meredith receives a significant increase in fees even though [consumers] can still watch its shows for free over-the-air [or on the Internet].
“Meredith has blocked its stations from reaching different [services’] customers before and also threatened to disconnect others. We’d like to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably, and appreciate [subscribers’] patience while we attempt just that.”