Tegna said its stations have gone dark in a retransmission consent dispute with AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse services.
Their original distribution agreement expired at 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 30. But it was extended until Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Tegna has 64 TV stations in 51 markets, reaching 41.7 million TV households covering 39% of the country. It owns Big 4 affiliates in the top 25 markets.
“Unfortunately, DirecTV AT&T U-Verse have not come to an agreement with Tegna to keep our stations available on their services. Our company has successfully negotiated multi-year deals with hundreds of cable and satellite providers across the country without disruptions to service,” Tegna said in a statement.
An AT&T spokesperson accused Tegna of taking advantage of viewers during a crisis.
“in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, Tegna is demanding the largest rate increase we have ever seen, and intentionally blacking out its most loyal viewers. We challenge Tegna to return its local stations immediately while we finalize a new agreement and pledge to pay Tegna retroactively whatever higher rates to which we eventually agree. We share our customers’ frustration, appreciate their patience and intend to do all we can to resolve this matter soon," the spokesperson said.
At a time when pay-TV companies are losing subscribers to cord cutting, pricing is a sensitive content. But Tegna said what it broadcast is worth paying for.
“Our content remains the most popular and highly viewed programming available. More importantly, the value of what we offer to our MVPD partners has never been greater. The differentiated, non-substitutable programming we provide including live local news, live local and national sports and first run, highly popular network content is a vital reason why consumers continue to subscribe to MVPD bundles,” Tegna said.
“While we remain hopeful that this will get resolved quickly, our viewers should know that our channels are available on other service providers in their community as well as many streaming services that offer instant access when viewers sign up. As always, our stations are also available for free over-the-air and viewers can watch our newscasts live on our stations’ websites, Roku and mobile apps,” it said.
Another big broadcaster, Nexstar Media Group, could have its stations go off the air this week if it is unable to reach a deal with Dish. That outage could happen today.
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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.