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Hill Presses AT&T, Sinclair to Do Retrans Deal

AT&T sent a letter to the Hill Thursday (Sept. 26) filling it in on the Sinclair retrans impasse--stations could go off DirecTV and U-Verse Friday (Sept. 27) unless there is a deal. Now, some house members have filled AT&T and Sinclair in on their view of the unfairness of a potential blackout. 

Sinclair has been warning its viewers (136 stations in 86 markets) in on-air crawls that their stations could be off AT&T-owned MVPDs DirecTV and U-Verse by Sept. 27. 

In a letter to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Sinclair CEO Chris Riley, most of a dozen legislators said that if there is a blackout Friday, their constituents "could be deprived of important local information, including news, weather, traffic, and emergency information." They said that would be "unfair."  

They said they were not taking sides in the dispute, just urging both sides to negotiate both in good faith and expeditiously, to get a deal done before the 5 p.m. deadline. 

“Our constituents should not be held hostage in contract negotiations between AT&T and Sinclair," said Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.). "Purposefully causing a blackout of local TV to gain perceived leverage in a contract dispute cuts people off from important local broadcasts and even emergency information when needed." 

Also signing on to the letter were Reps. Frank D. Lucas, Devin Nunes, Tom Cole, Randy Weber, Doug LaMalfa, Matt Gaetz, Chip Roy, Denver Lee Riggleman III, John Rose and Brian Mast.