As of 1am Eastern on Saturday, July 20, a litany of subscribers to AT&T-owned DirecTV and U-Verse went into a frenzy. AT&T will be to blame for many. For other furious subscribers, finger-pointing will be directed at the media company rumored to be weeks away from a reunification with Viacom.
A “blackout” saw all of CBS Corp.‘s O&Os go dark across the AT&T-owned services.
As expected, both parties are assailing one another. Customers will be the victims of their squabble.
“CBS has reached timely, fair agreements with hundreds of other cable, satellite, telco and internet providers to carry our industry-leading, fan-favorite programming,” CBS said in a statement released July 16. “AT&T, however, continues to propose unfair terms well below those agreed to by its competitors and may drop CBS unless we agree to those terms.”
On Friday, Capitol Hill legislators received a letter from AT&T defending itself in its negotiations with CBS.
“We have offered CBS the highest rate we currently pay any major broadcast network group,” it said. “We have offered to market CBS All Access to our millions of customers on their behalf. CBS has rejected all these offers. CBS has a history of blacking out their stations to demand severe price increases. They have done this repeatedly to millions of Dish, Charter and other pay TV subscribers.”
For AT&T, “The problem is that broadcasters, like CBS, demand more money for shows that their viewers – our subscribers – are watching less. In fact, CBS and the other three major networks have already lost more than half their prime-time audience in the 18-49-year-old demographic in the past decade. Our customers are fed up with these tactics. They are tired of the endless cycle of price increases and blackouts. They want innovation and better choices. AT&T agrees.”
A total of 17 DMAs are impacted by the stalemate over a new retransmission fee agreement: WCBS-TV and WLNY-TV (New York), KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV (Los Angeles), WBBM-TV (Chicago), KYW-TV and WPSG-TV (Philadelphia), KTVT-TV and KTXA-TV (Dallas-Ft. Worth), KPIX-TV and KBCW-TV (San Francisco), WUPA-TV (Atlanta), WBZ-TV and WSBK-TV (Boston), KSTW-TV (Seattle), WTOG-TV (Tampa-St. Petersburg), WWJ-TV and WKBD-TV (Detroit), WCCO-TV and KCCW-TV (Minneapolis-St. Paul), WFOR-TV and WBFS-TV (Miami), KCNC-TV (Denver), KOVR-TV and KMAX-TV (Sacramento), KDKA-TV and WPCW-TV (Pittsburgh) and WJZ-TV (Baltimore).
Seizing on what is a third major TV “blackout,” the pro-MVPD American Television Alliance launched a new advertising campaign that’s tied to “a significant push” by the ATVA urging Congress to act on reforming outdated video marketplace laws.
The ads being used can be viewed at https://www.