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Television

DirectTV customers lose network channels

Companies trade accusations in ongoing negotiations

Having trouble finding your local network affiliates on DirecTV and AT&T U-Verse? You’re not alone.

AT&T DirecTV customers no longer have access to local affiliate programming from major networks including ABC, Fox, NBC The CW and CBS due to an ongoing contract dispute with Nexstar. The blackout went into effect Thursday and has yet to be resolved.

Texas-based Nexstar – which owns, operates, programs or provides sales and other services to 174 full power television stations reaching 39% of U.S. households – claims that it offered DirecTV an agreement to keep the channels on its services for a rate comparable to what has been offered to other large distributors.

Nexstar said it has been “negotiating in good faith” and that DirecTV “misled” the broadcasting conglomerate as the deadline for negotiations reached an end.

“DIRECTV/AT&T did not accept Nexstar’s offer for an extension which would have allowed viewers in the affected markets to view their favorite network shows, special events, sports, local news and other programming on the Fourth of July and until such time as a new agreement can be reached,” Nexstar said in a statement.

AT&T released a statement Thursday placing the blame back on the broadcasting giant, saying it was Nexstar who ultimately made the decision to remove the stations from its lineup offered to customers.

“The four major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) have together lost about half their primetime audience over the past few years,” AT&T said in a statement, “Despite this, Nexstar is demanding the largest increase that AT&T has ever seen from any content provider.”

This isn’t the first time AT&T has dropped programming from its lineup due to disputes over contracts. In fact, it’s become fairly common for the nation’s largest pay TV provider with 24.5 million subscribers.

At the end of April, A&E Networks Group accused AT&T of engaging in “anti-competitive behavior” amid a contract negotiation standoff that almost saw channels like History Channel and AMC blacked out for DirecTV customers.

Similarly, Nexstar also claimed in their statements this week that AT&T was leveraging its market power to “prioritize its own content at the expense of consumers.”

Both distributors have said they are open to negotiations despite their public disagreement amidst contract talks.

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