Want to watch CBS programming in the National Capital Region or in Tampa-St. Petersburg? If you’re a DirecTV subscriber, you’re out of luck.
The same can be said for DirecTV subscribers in markets such as Buffalo and Portland, Ore., who want to watch their local NBC affiliates.
Chalk it up to the latest retransmission fee dispute, which at 7pm Eastern on Tuesday silenced all TEGNA-owned stations from the direct broadcast satellite’s local channel lineups.
The stations impacted by the “blackout,” created by the lack of a new retransmission consent agreement between TEGNA and the AT&T-owned DBS provider, include 63 television stations in 51 markets. According to TEGNA, it is the largest owner of top 4 affiliates in the top 25 markets among independent station groups, reaching approximately
39% of all television households nationwide.
As such, the impasse is a significant one, as Nexstar Media Group and Dish tussle over their own respective retrans consent accord.
In a statement appearing on TEGNA TV station websites including those for KGW-8 in Portland, Ore., and flagship WUSA-9 in Washington, D.C., the company says “DirecTV is taking away your access to your favorite CBS programming, including NFL football, SEC college football, The Amazing Race, NCIS, Seal Team and Young Sheldon as well as your local news, weather and sports.”
TEGNA adds that DirecTV “has refused to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us, which is why our station is not currently available” on the service provider, noting that TEGNA “is committed to reaching fair, market-based agreements with all the video service providers in our area. Our track record proves it. Over the past few years, we reached hundreds of multi-year deals with cable and satellite companies all across the country, including Dish, Cox, Comcast, Verizon FiOS and many others. It has been disappointing that DirecTV, so far, has refused to reach an agreement.”
Naturally, AT&T has a different take on the matter.
“[In] the midst of an ongoing pandemic, TEGNA is demanding the largest rate increase we have ever seen, and intentionally blacking out its most loyal viewers,” the DirecTV owner said in a statement. “We challenge TEGNA to return its local stations immediately while we finalize a new agreement and pledge to pay TEGNA retroactively whatever higher rates to which we eventually agree. We share our customers’ frustration, appreciate their patience and intend to do all we can to resolve this matter soon.”
Pro-MVPD lobbying group the American Television Alliance (ATVA) offered similar sentiments, accusing TEGNA of being the unfair party harming DirecTV consumers.
“It is alarming, albeit unsurprising, that TEGNA is profiteering off of the need for local news at a time as critical as during a national pandemic,” said ATVA spokesperson Jessica Kendust. “Following a self-reported revenue of $738 million in 2020’s third quarter, TEGNA’s demand for astronomical retransmission fees on the backs of American consumers is baffling. ATVA is disappointed that TEGNA is ignoring the public interest to weaponize blackouts as a negotiation bargaining chip.”