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14 Feb

DirecTV Will Fight US Antitrust Suit Over The LA Dodgers Channel

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DirecTV executives recently said that they have refused to pay for the Time Warner Cable Inc’s Los Angeles Dodgers channel, as they have been “burned” before, overpaying to air Lakers games, and not because they are conspiring with others to get advantage on competitors.

That is the defense DirecTV, the biggest satellite TV provider of the Unites States, will use while asking a judge to throw away a Department of Justice lawsuit, which accuses DirecTV of joining hands with competitors in 2014 to get an edge over TWC in the licensing negotiations.

As per the government, DirecTV was the leader of a conspiracy among the distributors in Los Angeles area, which left almost 70% of the pay TV users in the second largest media market of the US without access to the Dodgers games in 2014. This happened two years before Charter Communications acquired Time Warner Cable. The deal made it the Los Angeles provider of Dodger games and as a result of the deal, thousands of fans of the games still do not have access to the live broadcast of the games, the Justice Department said.

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LA Dodgers Channel

Charter Communications said in a statement that they do not expect any other pay TV provider to offer SportsNet LA by opening day of baseball season. DirecTV provided a gentler explanation for why no LA pay TV distributor picked up the channel of the local Major League Baseball franchise. “TWC’s exorbitant prices and bargaining intransigence.” DirecTV had paid a premium to carry TWC’s Lakers channel only to see the NBA team’s ratings and performance tank and after that, they resolved not to commit the same mistake with the Dodgers channel.

The case is in Los Angeles federal court and it is playing out a delicate time for AT&T, as they are trying in Washington to acquire permissions to buy Time Warner. President Trump voiced opposition to the deal earlier during his campaign and after taking the President’s office, Trump is said to have told people privately that he still opposes the move.

The dueling narratives on the channel will be debated at hearing that is set for March 13, 2017. In the hearing, a judge will decide whether the lawsuit should be permitted to proceed.

10 Feb

AT&T To Implement Wireless Internet Over Power Lines

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DirecTV

Wireless Internet

The telecom giant AT&T Inc. is looking forward to providing high-speed wireless internet through the power lines across the nation. The company has announced that it had made a recent breakthrough in the process. Currently, the carrier is in talks with various power companies for testing its Project AirGig at more locations, which will be determined in the coming months. The primary location for these testing is in the U.S.

AT&T announced Project AirGig in September stating about the ease of installing these technology than fiber cables. It runs over a license-free spectrum while also delivering ultra fast wireless connectivity across homes and mobile devices. AT&T’s chief strategy officer John Donovan recently explained about the project in a statement. He said that, “Project AirGig has tremendous potential to transform internet access globally—well beyond our current broadband footprint and not just in the United States.”

This project will be instrumental in enabling low cost internet in rural areas and cities where the ample presence of power lines will make the connectivity option much easier. AT&T Labs have recently developed the technology for 4G LTE and 5G multi gigabit mobile networks through power lines. This is possible by the low-cost antenna and devices located on power lines that can regenerate millimeter wave signals for mobile communications.

“We are looking forward to begin testing the possibilities of AT&T Labs’ invention for customers and utility companies. AT&T is focused on delivering a gigabit-per-second speed everywhere we can with our wired and wireless technologies,” Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and chief technology officer, said in a press release. “Project AirGig represents a key invention in our 5G Evolution approach.”

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This broadband over power lines technology has already undergone outdoor trials by the company. The recent tests have yielded positive results according to the company and they are moving into the next stage of the testing. These outdoor field trials are also a good way to demonstrate Project AirGig’s support of the smart grid technologies owned by power companies.

AT&T stated that the rigorous trials undertaken would help them to accurately find out the deployment costs while also maintaining the highest signal quality. The patent for this new technology is still pending and its introduction into the market will result in lesser hardware and installation costs while maintaining the high internet speed.

31 Jan

AT&T Aims To Ease The Roaming Burdens

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International Day Pass

Recent insiders reports say that AT&T is all set to ease the roaming burdens for some of their customers. The service provider recently announced an International Day Pass, which is actually a per-day subscription to significantly reduce the cost of overseas calls, texts, and data for AT&T customers.

This latest initiative from the telecom provider will work just like an extension of AT&T customer’s domestic plan. AT&T customers will be able to get 24-hour access to all the AT&T’s affiliate networks across the world for just $10 per day and this includes unlimited calls, data, and texts.

AT&T is planning to offer these benefits to some of their customers when they travel in over hundred countries including Central and South America, the Bahamas, Jamaica, India, China, Italy, France, and the U.K.

David Christoper, AT&T Entertainment Group’s chief marketing officer recently said, “Traveling has its own challenges. It’s great being able to use the domestic plan you’re familiar with while abroad. AT&T International Day Pass simplifies travelers’ lives so they can enjoy more of their favorite mobile apps when on the go overseas. This helps with booking lodging, catching a ride, translating, navigating, video calling, using social media and more.”

Reports indicate that International Data Pass is an effective replacement to long-in-the-tooth Passport service of AT&T. The latter plan offered just 200 MB of data to their customers for an amount of $40 per month. International Data Pass is a better deal to customers in all aspects.

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AT&T Roaming Offers

However, the telecom company recently stated that AT&T would revoke the day pass privileges of the customers, who surpass 50 percent of the plan for two consecutive months. AT&T also specified that the plans are actually sold by device. This means that customers, who are under the family plan, will have to buy separate passes and they will also have to keep an eye on collective data consumption.

This latest offering from AT&T will certainly pose a threat to the International offers from other providers such as Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Sprint offers a 100 MB of unrestricted texting, data and 20 cents per minute calling in countries, which are covered by the company’s Global Roaming agreement. On the other hand, T-Mobile offers an incredible high-speed data, unlimited calling, and texting to their customers in over 100 countries, whereas Verizon provides a $10 a day TravelPass, which includes data, text, and calling in over hundred countries.

20 Jan

DirecTV Acquires Mystery Series “The Five”

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DirecTV

Harlan Coben’s The Five

One of the popular cable service providers in the United States, DirecTV, recently secured the Latin American distribution of “The Five”. This TV series was created exclusively for television viewers by Harlan Coben. Reports indicate that this TV series will be available to OnDIRECTV viewers from March 27, 2017.

OnDIRECTV is the exclusive entertainment channel of DirecTV Latin America and it offers a number of exciting TV shows and other programs to viewers. The Manchester-based RED Production Company (“Happy Valley”) of Nicola Shindler is the producer of this mystery TV series and it is actually produced for the U.K.’s Sky 1 network. DirecTV had also acquired two TV series, “The Last Panthers,” and “Spotless” from STUDIOCANAL a few months ago, and the addition of a new series would hopefully boost their subscriber base.

However, reports claim that the “The Five” will be available to the Japanese viewers before it debuts on OnDirecTV. This TV series has already been aired on Spain’s Telefónica, Australia’s SBS 1, New Zealand’s SKY, the Netherlands’ NPO, Israel’s Yes DBS, France’s CANAL+, and Radio-Canada for French-speaking Canada, and on Italy’s TIMvision.

The general manager of OnDIRECTV, Willard Tressel said, “We’re thrilled to offer Harlan Coben’s The Five exclusively to our subscribers in Latin America. Harlan is recognized as a master of creating mysteries with unexpected twists and turns. We believe our viewers will be captivated by the kind of storytelling now brought to the screen—that has put over 70 million books in print worldwide.”

The executive VP of sales and marketing at STUDIOCANAL recently commented, “We are very pleased to announce yet another significant deal for The Five and I’d like to thank Beatriz Campos, STUDIOCANAL’s VP of sales, and our Miami-based consultant Daniel Rodriguez for securing the perfect broadcaster for this drama in Latin America.”

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“This acquisition continues our successful relationship with DIRECTV, following their broadcast of The Last Panthers and Spotless last year, and we are sure that the riveting story line and high production values of The Five will make it another must-see choice for DIRECTV viewers across the region,” he added.

The last two DirecTV acquisitions from STUDIOCANAL were highly greeted by the viewers and this urged the cable service provider to offer more contents from the channel. DirecTV hopes that the acquisition of these channels will attract more film and TV show lovers to their offerings.

18 Jan

AT&T Will No Longer Work On 2G Phones

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AT&T Phone Support

AT&T has cut down their legacy GSM network at the start of 2017. We may not use our old Blackberry Pearl or old iPhone on AT&T network just for the sake of nostalgia today, but AT&T is keeping their old promises for sure.

In 2012, AT&T announced that they would shut down the 2G service by Jan 1, 2017. So, if you are still using a mobile phone that makes only GSM calls and make use of EDGE for data needs, then you are stuck.

It is reported that this move of AT&T will not hurt many users as even the basic mobile phones these days make use of 3G and LTE. However, it is hard not to talk about a technology that has been around for so many years.

Users of AT&T would not mind much, as AT&T offers much more than 2G. It is reported that AT&T will repurpose the newly freed spectrum for LTE and that this move will lead to more space for 5G wireless. Just like the end of analog mobile services, this small sacrifice will pay bigger dividends in the future.

“To help support the massive growth of mobile internet usage and free up spectrum for newer technologies, we discontinued service on our 2G wireless networks January 1, 2017,” AT&T Chief Strategy Officer, John Donovan said. “The retirement of our 2G network … is part of our 5G Evolution, which includes continued deployment of our 4G LTE and other technologies in the years to come.”

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EDGE Services

He further added that, “Newer, faster technologies will improve the wireless experience. IoT customers will be able to better serve their customers with improved applications and solutions because of the higher speeds of the upgraded network. Mobility customers will enjoy faster speeds to share photos and watch video.”

The shutdown of the 2G service is also a reminder on how far the mobile data has come since the launch of 2G services. In the United States, the 2G service was introduced at the turn of the millennium. EDGE was a technology that was considered fine at the time when the mobile data services were considered novel.

At the time of introduction of EDGE, most of the users made use of the technology to check email messages, surf the internet, etc. Yet things have changed quite a lot now. These days, a modestly sized image or an app download can crush the 2G services. The modern mobile internet is very much dependent on speeds and the speeds are increasing day by day.

17 Jan

Rob Lowe Criticizes DirecTV For NFL Playoff Blackout

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DirecTV Choice Package

Rob Lowe

Before a few years, DirecTV teamed with Rob Lowe for some commercials. These commercials made some people upset over the societal implications and for some of the claims that were made in the commercials, but could not be proven true.

DirecTV pulled the plug out of all these advertisements eventually, and ended the relation with Lowe. Yet now, Lowe has roasted DirecTV for an NFL playoff game being blacked out on the service owing to the dispute between DirecTV and the local carrier.

In one of his tweets, Lowe called back to his pitchman days. “Fox and DirecTV have blocked out the Seattle vs. Atlanta game in my area,” he posted on Twitter. “Stop the greed and let the fans see the game!!”

“Hi, I’m Rob Lowe,” he wrote in a second post. “And I’M “Screwed Over” Rob Lowe, with DirecTV that cuts off my abiliy to watch NFL games during the playoffs!” This tweet was later deleted by Lowe later, but it got many shares before that.

Lowe took shots at modern TV when The Grinder was canceled. In the advertisements that pimp the services and prices offered by the satellite TV provider, Lowe played a successful version of himself opposed to a more unfortunate version, which make use of cable TV instead of satellite TV. The viewers might think that Lowe wanted to watch something on the cable or some streaming only option.

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DirecTV Blackout

The said dispute is between the Missouri located media conglomerate News-Press and Gazette and DirecTV. The News-Press & Gazette Company own Fox affiliates in many of the markets, including the one in Santa Barbara where Lowe currently lives. It is reported that this type of holdouts happen much often these days, as everything is becoming more and more expensive, without offering for similar rises in the employee compensations.

It is clear that Lowe wanted to be cheering on the game or at least watch the game silently. As per the reports, he has dropped another message on Twitter about DirecTV that was shared all around the social media, before he pulled the message. Currently, the NFL has a week of playoffs. This includes both conference championship games, before Super Bowl.

13 Jan

DirecTV Plans To Drop The Contents Of CW And KIFI Stations

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DirecTV Family Package

CW And KIFI Stations

Reports from several reliable sources indicate that DirecTV is planning to drop both the CW and KIFI stations from their channel lineup. Reports claim that the cable TV service provider has already informed these stations about a potential blackout of their channels.

Both KIFI and the CW were trying to negotiate a long-term retransmission consent agreement with the DirecTV for the last few weeks. This was to ensure that the contents offered by these stations would not be blacked out on any of the DirecTV packages. However, the officials from both the stations claim that DirecTV has refused to pay a fair value to the programs offered by the stations.

If rumors were true, this means that DirecTV subscribers will not be able to access the top rated programming from both western Wyoming and eastern Idaho stations. These programming include local news, network news, sports programming, and a lot more entertainment programs.

Reports indicate that both the CW and KIFI has extended their current retransmission consent agreement with DirecTV for about eight times in order to strike a new deal with the cable service provider. Unfortunately, the negotiations between the parties have not yet been successful.

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Dropping TV Channels

The general manger of NPG of Idaho, Monte Young said, “We first presented DIRECTV with an offer for a new long-term agreement on September 6, 2016. For several months, we negotiated with DIRECTV and over that time, it became apparent that DIRECTV refuses to pay a fair value for our programming. KIFI and the CW provide the highest rated Programming on DIRECTV’s system.”

“We offer the top rated local news relevant to DIRECTV’s eastern Idaho and western Wyoming subscribers. We also are the primary source for ABC and CW network programming,” Young added. “Yet, despite all of that, DIRECTV refuses to pay a fee that is approximately one-fifth of what it pays for channels like ESPN, which has a fraction of our ratings. I am shocked that DIRECTV sees almost no value in the top rated local news in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming.”

On the other hand, subscribers of Dish Network, Charter Communications, and Cable One will be able to access the contents of both the CW and KIFI. “We have reached long term agreements with every other major cable and satellite distributor,” Young said. He also indicated that negotiations between DirecTV and the local stations are going on, and hopes are still high.

13 Jan

AT&T Chief Meets Donald Trump

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DirecTV

Randall Stephenson

The proposed merger of AT&T with Time Warner has remained the top priority for Thursday’s meeting between the President-elect Donald Trump and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. However, the meeting ended without any discussion on the company’s proposed merger.

The telecom company released a statement after the conclusion of the meeting saying, “Mr. Stephenson had a very good meeting with President-Elect Trump earlier today covering a wide-range of topics. AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner was not a topic of discussion.”

Meanwhile, the statement also contained remarks on other aspects that the company could excel by working with the Trump Administration. It said, “The conversation focused on how AT&T can work with the Trump administration to increase investment in the U.S., stimulate job creation in America, and make American companies more competitive globally.”

Experts believe that successful implementation of this is possible, as AT&T has a record in capital spending, which surpassed Verizon’s $16.5 billion spending with its $18.7 billion in 2015. This has also earned AT&T a top position in the Progressive Policy Institute’s list of investment heroes in the US.

It is to be noted that AT&T’s proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner got a lot of criticism from Trump during his early campaign. He feared that it would give immense power to the company and rejected the notion completely. This issue was also raised in the Senate hearing last month that showed how AT&T could opt for favoring of its own content like CNN, HBO, and Warner Bros.

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Donald Trump

Insiders say that Trump’s severing relation with CNN has also played a role in delaying the merger between the two companies. The news organization has taken intense scorn from the President-elect, particularly on the recent allegations levied against Trump regarding his election victory attributed to external elements.

Recent accusations by Washington on the Russian tampering of the elections also caught the attention of the media for a while. The intelligence agencies also warned that Russian operatives might have compromising personal and financial information about Trump. However, the President-elect made it a fake news by refusing to answer the queries from the CNN channel’s anchor Jim Acosta.

As for AT&T, the Telco is the largest internet and cable provider in the US with almost 25.3 million subscribers, and has dominated the business for quite some time now. All the reputation of AT&T still offers some amount of optimism regarding the deal.

10 Jan

DirecTV Drops Eight Television Stations In The Coachella Valley

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DirecTV

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Reports from several reliable sources indicate that DirecTV recently decided to stop carrying approximately eight television stations in the Coachella Valley. This means that DirecTV subscribers in this region will no longer be able to access the channels offered by these stations. The blackout of these channels is because the renegotiations over carriage agreements between the provider and the stations didn’t end well.

KESQ and the News-Press and Gazette Company recently announced that DirecTV subscribers will not be able to access KESQ-AM, KUNA-FM, Deserts News Now, KCWQ (CW), CBS Local 2, KUNA (Telemundo), KDFX (FOX), and KESQ (ABC) from January 10. The existing contract between these stations and the provider will end on the same date.

The general manger at KSEQ, Mike Stutz said, “Our agreement comes to an end at three o’clock tomorrow afternoon. I can tell you we’re continuing to negotiate in good faith, we’re hopeful we’ll get this resolved before there’s any disruption in service.”

Cable TV providers such as DirecTV usually pay an amount as fees to these stations in order to broadcast their contents. The expiry of the contract between the two parties means that the provider will have to strike a new deal in order to continue offering the channels offered by the stations to their subscribers.

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Dropping Television Stations

In this scenario, both the parties have miserably failed to renegotiate the carrier agreements between them, which means that the provider would be able to remove these channels from air. The parent company of KESQ owns Gulf Broadcasting Company, the company that operates affiliated channels such as KUNA (Telemundo) and CBS Local 2.

In a recent statement, NPG Co. noted, “Unfortunately, consumers can be held hostage if a powerful cable or satellite company refuses to reach a fair deal with a local station. In those cases, a local station can be ‘blacked out’ on a cable system. As a result, viewers like you can miss out on programming you love like NFL and NCAA football, primetime network programs, high profile programs like the Academy Awards and your local news.”

On the other hand, a DirecTV representative responded by stating that “News-Press & Gazette has suspended its stations briefly from our customers and threatened others before, so we appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably.”

06 Jan

Trump Still Opposes AT&T Time Warner Merger

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President-Elect Donald Trump

President-elect Donald Trump is still opposing the merger between Time Warner Inc and AT&T. He believes that the merger would concentrate much power in the media industry, but Trump has been publicly silent about the mega-merger. It is rumored that the President-elect told his inner circle that he considers the merger decision to be bad. Reports say that chief strategist of Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, also opposes the deal.

During the election campaigns, Trump blasted the deal and shares of Time Warner climbed ten percent on speculation that the Trump Administration would be friendly to the 85.4 billion merger. However, after Bloomberg reported on what Trump thinks about the deal, the shares of Time Warner dropped as much as 3.8 percent.

Hope Hicks, who is the spokeswoman for Trump, did not respond to the rumors, and both Time Warner and AT&T also declined to comment. Nevertheless, Cowen & Co. analyst Paul Gallant feels that the opposition of Trump to the deal is a bit negative. He said that everything is negotiable with the President-elect and added that the review process is still in the very early stages.

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AT&T Time Warner Merger

It is not yet clear if Trump will try to influence the regulatory review of the merger. He can either push the officials to put forward the conditions or block the deal completely. If the deal is made, it will combine the biggest pay television and internet service provider in the US with the largest creator of programming, but the deal will be reviewed by the Justice Department and most probably by the Federal Communications Commission.

Trump will take the President’s office on Jan 20 and has nominated Senator Jeff Sessions to lead the Department of Justice. He has not yet suggested a successor for the departing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler though. In October, before the presidential selection, Trump said that his Administration wouldn’t approve the merger, saying, “It’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” He cited the deal as “an example of the power structure I’m fighting.”

If Trump wishes to influence the review, he may have more success with FCC as they weigh deals on public interest standard, said analyst Craig Moffett. “If the FCC takes the case, President Trump could influence the decision in any number of ways,” Moffett said. “He can effectively turn up the heat and make it very difficult for the FCC to disagree with him.”

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