CBS Blacked Out as Talks With AT&T Fail

CBS stations were blacked out to subscribers to AT&T’s pay TV services as the two companies failed to reach an agreement by the deadline of 2 a.m. ET Saturday morning.

AT&T pointed the finger at CBS for the breakdown, which could leave millions without CBS shows when they wake up.

In addition to AT&T's DirecTV and Uverse, customers of AT&T Now nationwide can't watch CBS. 

“We were willing to continue to negotiate and also offered to pay CBS an unprecedented rate increase. That increase would present CBS the highest fee we currently pay to any major broadcast network group, despite the fact that CBS stations are available free over the air,” AT&T said.

CBS blamed AT&T, saying it wanted to make a deal and was willing to keep talking.

Related: As Blackout Looms, AT&T Says CBS Refused Offer.

“After months of negotiations, CBS is simply looking to receive fair value for its popular programming and is proposing economic terms similar to those that AT&T’s competitors have accepted in hundreds of our recent distribution agreements. The DirecTV deal expiring tonight was signed in 2012 and is nowhere close to today’s fair market terms for CBS content – to which AT&T's competitors have repeatedly agreed,” CBS said in a statement.

CBS said it granted an extension of its current deal with AT&T earlier this month in order to try to reach an agreement without consumers being put in the middle.

It said it also offered a 30-day extension Friday to work towards a fair deal for all parties – most importantly, our loyal viewers – but AT&T declined that additional extension.

In addition to offering what it said was a big increase in the fee it pays, AT&T said that it was seeking to sell to its subscribers CBS All-Access, the subscription streaming service. It is also seeking rights to offer full seasons of CBS shows on demand.

“It’s become clear to us that CBS is intent on blacking out any home that chooses to receive cable or satellite service to up-sell CBS All Access subscriptions. CBS has said publicly that between 2018 and the end of this year it will significantly increase prices on roughly 75% of any homes that opt to receive their content via cable or satellite. CBS has also said publicly that it priced All Access that much higher to capitalize on customers it can capture from cable, satellite or other means of distribution,” AT&T said in a statement.

AT&T is letting its subscribers know that many of them can stream the CBS stations' signals by using the Locast app

The previous deal between AT&T and CBS was signed seven years ago, and retransmission consent fees have escalated since then.

AT&T is also in a blackout situation with Nexstar Media, a large station owner, and slew of smaller broadcasters.

Earlier this week, Meredith 17 stations went dart to Dish Network customers.

At that point, the TV industry tie the record for most stations blacked out, according to the American Television Alliance. So far 213 stations’ signal have been pulled from cable or satellite distributors in the first seven months of the year. That ties the record set over all of 2017.

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.