IRVING, Tx. (WSAV) — 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 twenty 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.