Recently, some DirecTV customers complained that they were not able access 33 Hearst Television stations on their DirecTV packages, as the channels went dark at midnight on January 1, 2017. Reports indicate that the blacking out of these channels is because the retransmission consent negotiations between both the parties broke down. However, the blackout of all these stations doesn’t come as a surprise to DirecTV customers because Hearst had already warned the viewers that there is a possibility for the blackout.
AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV customers in about 28 markets including Boston (ABC affiliate WCVB), Orlando, Fla. (NBC affiliate WESH), Louisville, Ky. (CBS affiliate WLKY), Baltimore (NBC affiliate WBAL), New Orleans (NBC affiliate WDSU), and Pittsburgh (ABC affiliate WTAE) are currently unable to access the Hearst Television stations. Hearst published a statement on their website claiming that they have a history of thriving re-trans negotiations with other providers and they delivered quality content to the viewers without any disruptions or blackout.
“Unfortunately, the DirecTV negotiating team is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable given the significant investments we have made to deliver top tier programming to our viewers,” WLKY president and general manager, Glenn Haygood said. “We regret the inconvenience DirecTV’s demands have imposed on its subscribers, and we will keep you fully informed of developments.”
DirecTV viewers will have a hard time, as the provider has also lost access to 14 Cox Media properties in 10 of their popular markets such as Oklahoma, Seattle and Tulsa, N.C., Charlotte and Atlanta, on January 1. The loss of these properties is because the carriage deal between both the parties expired.
Cox Media EVP of Television Jane Williams, said, “Negotiations continue, and we expect this disruption to be brief considering that every other pay-TV provider has come to reasonable terms with CMG. We have made ourselves available twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week to get this deal done.”
In a recent statement, AT&T said, “We want to get our customers’ usual local broadcast stations back into their lineups and share their frustration. Hearst Television is preventing its local signals from reaching DirecTV customers’ homes in 26 different cities unless Hearst receives a significant increase in fees just to allow those same families to watch shows available for free over-the-air and that the broadcast networks typically make available for free online and through new digital apps.”
“Hearst has suspended its stations briefly from other TV providers’ customers before, so we appreciate our DirecTV customers’ patience as we work to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably.”