Hearst Stations Dark on DirecTV

About 33 Hearst Television stations in 28 markets went dark to DirecTV customers at midnight on Jan.1, as retransmission consent negotiations between the two broke down.

The blackout shouldn’t come as a surprise – Hearst has been warning viewers that an impasse was likely as early as Dec. 27. 

DirecTV and AT&T U-verse customers in about 28 markets like Boston (ABC affiliate WCVB); Pittsburgh (ABC affiliate WTAE); New Orleans (NBC affiliate WDSU); Baltimore (NBC affiliate WBAL); Louisville, Ky. (CBS affiliate WLKY); and Orlando, Fla. (NBC affiliate WESH), will be without those stations as talks continue.

 In a statement on its station websites, Hearst pointed out that it has a history of successful retrans negotiations with no disruption to viewers.

 “Unfortunately, the DirecTV negotiating team is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable given the significant investments we have made to deliver top tier programming to our viewers,” said WLKY president and general manager Glenn Haygood in a statement. “We regret the inconvenience DirecTV’s demands have imposed on its subscribers, and we will keep you fully informed of developments.”

DirecTV also lost access to about 14 Cox Media properties in 10 markets, including Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C.; Seattle and Tulsa, Okla., on Jan.1 after its carriage deal expired.

In a statement, Cox Media EVP of Television Jane Williams said talks continue.

“Negotiations continue, and we expect this disruption to be brief considering that every other pay-TV provider has come to reasonable terms with CMG,” Williams said in a statement. We have made ourselves available twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week to get this deal done.” 

 “We want to get our customers’ usual local broadcast stations back into their lineups and share their frustration," DirecTV parent AT&T said in a statement. "Hearst Television is preventing its local signals from reaching DirecTV customers’ homes in 26 different cities unless Hearst receives a significant increase in fees just to allow those same families to watch shows available for free over-the-air and that the broadcast networks typically make available for free online and through new digital apps. Hearst has suspended its stations briefly from other TV providers’ customers before, so we appreciate our DirecTV customers’ patience as we work to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably.”