DirecTV customers could lose access to 64 local news affiliates across 51 markets owned by Tegna if the two parties fail to reach a resolution in their carriage negotiations by Nov. 30.
A Tegna spokesperson told TheWrap that the company is “working hard to reach a fair, market-based agreement” with DirecTV, based on the competitive terms it has used to reach previous deals with the company and other major pay TV providers.
“Thus far, DIRECTV has refused to agree to such terms, which is why we have begun informing DIRECTV and AT&T U-Verse customers that they may lose access to their local TEGNA station and our valuable programming,” the spokesperson continued. “We hope that DIRECTV is willing to negotiate a market-based deal before the November 30 deadline and doesn’t take away DIRECTV and AT&T U-Verse customers’ local news, weather, sports and network programs.”
In a response posted to its website, DirecTV blasted Tegna for making a private negotiation public to “create unnecessary and premature concern among some of our customers to extract higher rates for local broadcast stations.”
“Unfortunately, that’s become the industry norm as the costs for free local stations have soared more than 20 percent yearly despite declining popularity and less compelling content,” the pay TV operator added. “We will continue to meet our customers’ demands for greater choice and value. We will do our utmost to shield them from unwarranted price hikes as we work with TEGNA Inc. to renew its stations without interruption.”
The latest carriage dispute for DirecTV comes after 159 of Nexstar Media Group’s local TV stations across 113 markets were removed in July. The two parties reached an agreement in September that ended the over 75-day blackout, though terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Other recent carriage disputes have included Dish Network and Hearst in September, which was resolved earlier this month after customers lost access to 37 local channels across 27 markets, and Disney and Charter Communications, which ended an 11-day programming blackout and led to a first-of-its-kind agreement that would bundle the entertainment giant’s streaming services with the cable giant’s TV packages.
In the event of a blackout, DirecTV says customers can still access local network broadcasts or college or NFL games over the air with a digital antenna. College and NFL games are also available to stream live via Paramount+, Peacock, ESPN3, Fox network or station websites and cwtv.com or station websites. Customers can also request a blackout credits on DirecTV’s website, which can take up to two billing cycles to appear on bills.