AT&T, Nexstar Meet But Station Blackout Goes on

Executives from AT&T and Nexstar met over the weekend by the nearly two-week long blackout of about 120 stations continues.

The talks continue but there has been no agreement yet, according to an AT&T spokesperson. Negotiations will continue this week, a Nexstar spokesman added.

Sitting down was a significant step because the two sides have been pointing fingers, with AT&T claiming last week that Nexstar had been unwilling to engage in a face-to-face dialogue since July 4 when the blackout began.

“AT&T has been ready to negotiate since Nexstar removed its stations more than a week ago. As we enter the second week of their blackout of our customers, Nexstar has canceled our scheduled meeting for Friday and it now has been rescheduled for Saturday,” the company said last week.

AT&T claims Nexstar is seeking to roughly double its retransmission fees.

“We have spent the past week offering Nexstar new rates in multiple good faith proposals. Nexstar claims that it offered us an unconditional 30-day extension. That is not true. Nexstar’s extension was specifically conditioned on its rates being retroactively applied, with an expectation that we and our customers would pay its unprecedented proposed fee increase.

Nexstar said it has been offering AT&T an extension that would restore the stations’ signals to satellite subscribers.

“Nexstar did not pull its stations or ask for their removal from AT&T’s DirectTV, U-verse or DirectTV Now platforms," Nexstar said in a statement. "Rather, Nexstar’s offer for a 30 day extension would have allowed consumers in the affected markets to continue viewing their favorite network shows, special events, sports, local news and other programming while the parties continue negotiations.” 

The dispute has gotten elected officials involved, with several U.S. Senators and members of congress calling on the two companies to end the blackout.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.