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San Diego CBS Affiliate Goes Dark to DirecTV

The San Diego CBS affiliate KFMB-CBS 8 went dark to DirecTV customers Thursday at 5 p.m., Pacific Standard Time, two-hours prior to the NFL Preseason opener of the hometown San Diego Chargers vs. the Dallas Cowboys, after the parties could not come to terms on a retransmission consent agreement.

According to KFMB’s web site, the station had been negotiating with DirecTV for several months – and offered six weeks of extensions -- while it tried to work out a deal. The station, owned by Midwest Television Inc., says it continues to negotiate with DirecTV and hopes a deal can be reached soon.

The station blamed the standoff on DirecTV’s recent acquisition by AT&T and the telco’s promise that it would cut costs after the deal was completed. AT&T completed its $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV on July 24.

“This black out is brought to you by Wall Street,” KFMB said on its web site. “When AT&T bought DirecTV, it told Wall Street that it would reduce its programming costs by 20%.  Now, AT&T/DirecTV has decided to make San Diego subscribers responsible for the promises AT&T made to its Wall Street investment bankers. CBS8 is only asking DirecTV to agree to the same low rates that other companies (including AT&T U-Verse) have agreed to pay.  AT&T/DirecTV has refused to do that.  We can’t give in to AT&T/DirecTV (and its Wall Street backers) and keep delivering to you the high quality local sports and entertainment programming you’ve come to expect from us.”

In a statement, DirecTV said the dispute is over money – it claims KFMB is demanding an exorbitant price increase.

"We intend to get KFMB back for our customers very soon and apologize for this temporary disruption,” DirecTV said in a statement. “KFMB is blacking out DirecTV homes unless customers pay more than double just to get back the same KFMB shows that remain available for free over-the-air on channel 8 and often at CBS.com. Local broadcasters including KFMB have now blacked out their communities more than 65 times already this year, forcing families to pay billions of dollars extra to keep conventional 'free' broadcast TV. We have asked for our customers’ patience since it will help to keep their bills lower.”