DirecTV Customers Lose Access to CBS in Compensation Dispute

Andrew Cummings
July 22, 2019

"AT&T's willingness to deprive its customers of valuable content has become routine over the last few weeks and months, and recent negotiations have regularly resulted in carriage disputes, blackouts and popular channels being removed from their service", CBS said in a statement.

CBS and AT&T are in a contract dispute that affects subscribers of DirecTV Now and other services. Although CBS is a broadcast network, pay-TV companies still have to pay to carry its content, and those fees in general have been rising significantly as networks seek out pricier content in an environment where advertising revenue is harder to come by.

CBS last negotiated a retransmission agreement with DirecTV in 2012 - three years before AT&T acquired the El Segundo satellite TV company.

Right now, it does not appear as though there is a timetable set for when AT&T and CBS want to fix this network negotiation problem.

"AT&T, however, continues to propose unfair terms well below those agreed to by its competitors and may drop CBS unless we agree to those terms", said CBS.

The network was interrupted by AT&T's satellite service DirecTV, the U-vertebrate, and DirecTV Now, a live streaming product, and with videos such as Big Brother, and Stephen Colbert's "Late Show". Moreover, CBS' retrans deal with AT&T also covers carriage on the DirecTV Now streaming platform for the 28 O&Os and another 117 independently owned CBS affiliates, which are now dark on DirecTV Now although the independent affiliates remain on the mothership DirecTV platform. "We had hoped to avoid any unnecessary interruption to any CBS-owned stations or national channels that some of our customers care about".

AT&T countered in a statement provided to Variety that CBS is "a repeat blackout offender" that has pulled its programming from other carriers before in order to get its way.

At this time, AT&T and DirecTV are suffering from the loss of their Nexstar stations too. It's understood that CBS was looking to raise its monthly per subscribe fee from about $2 to $3 under the new deal. CBS was allegedly trying to turn a free-to-air station into a premium channel while "leaving cable and satellite customers holding the bag".

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