AT&T® and Nexstar® Broadcasting had been in talks about a deal where subscribers of the DirecTV and U-Verse services from the former, got to watch local TV programming as well as CBS network programming. Amid deliberations as to what it should pay Nexstar Broadcasting for the rights to retransmit its signal, AT&T® had its DirecTV® service pull programming from WCIX and WCIA.
General Manager and VP Gary Hackler at WCIA said on Saturday that they have had “about 100 calls” from TV viewers, mainly in the Illinois area. “They are wanting clarity and all I can say is we are negotiating. Ultimately, we will come to some sort of a resolution but I’m not sure when,” he opined. According to Hackler, Nexstar® had asked for a month-long extension whilst negotiations were on, “but that didn’t happen.” He also said, “We felt like we were close enough that the extension would have gotten us to a resolution.”
AT&T®’s statement in a press release was that the company had hoped against a Nexstar®-GoCom Media® merger, and this is what prompted it to pull WCIX-MNT and WCIA-CBS from its lineups meant for its Springfield, Champaign, and Decatur customers. The cable and best internet provider said it offered Nexstar “more money to keep WCIA-CBS and WCIX-MNT available, but Nexstar simply said no and elected to remove them instead. Nexstar® has chosen to hold our customers in Champaign, Springfield and Decatur hostage and put them into the center of its negotiations.”
AT&T®, or in this instance, DirecTV®, has not been carrying WRSP and WCCU (both Fox affiliates), since May-end, after it failed to come to an agreement on retransmission fees. It blames Nexstar® for the deal going not happening, saying that latter either removes or threatens to remove signals from many distributors’ ‘free customers, in order to up the fees on its TV stations. According to the cable giant, this has happened with DISH®, Cox Cable®, and Charter Spectrum® before now. The spokesperson opined that GoCom Media® not long back removed WBUI-CW, WCCU-FOX, and WRSP-FOX from AT&T®’s same customers’ lineups as this time, in a bid to get substantial rate increase.
Texas-based Nexstar® (which owns 174 television stations in total which are broadcast across the country), said in the meantime that AT&T® was offered the same rate as other cable providers buying retransmission rights.