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CBS-owned stations went dark early Saturday for DirecTV, U-verse and DirecTV NOW customers after the network and ATT didn’t reach a new agreement.
The previous contract expired at 2 a.m. EDT Saturday and both CBS and ATT warned customers of the possible outage earlier in the week.
“CBS has put our customers into the middle of its negotiations by pulling its local CBS stations in 14 cities. We were willing to continue to negotiate and also offered to pay CBS an unprecedented rate increase,” ATT said in a statement Saturday. “That increase would present CBS the highest fee we currently pay to any major broadcast network group, despite the fact that CBS stations are available free over the air.”
CBS said in its statement Saturday it had granted an extension earlier this month “in order to try to reach an agreement without consumers being put in the middle. We also offered a 30-day extension yesterday to work towards a fair deal for all parties – most importantly, our loyal viewers – but ATT declined that additional extension.”
The affected markets include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Tampa, Seattle, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
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Some ATT customers lost access to Nexstar stations in 97 markets at 11:59 p.m. local time July 3. The stations, which include ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliate stations, are still dark.
“We must convince companies like CBS and Nexstar to accept the same call to action that our own TV customers have made clear,” ATT’s statement earlier in the week said. “Make no mistake. We want the CBS owned-and-operated and Nexstar local stations in our lineups, and their multimillion-dollar misinformation campaigns are a waste of everyone’s time, patience and frayed loyalties.”
CBS has made a website at www.keepcbs.com about the outage and is urging customers to “take action” by contacting ATT. The outage also affects some CBS-owned The CW television stations.
Not every CBS or CW station was blacked out for ATT customers.
Disputes between content providers and cable and satellite providers are common as companies try to negotiate new deals.
Sometimes the negotiations are extended to allow the parties to reach an agreement. In many situations, the stations don’t go black.
While both parties say they are looking for a resolution, there have been an increase in blackouts.
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“This year, broadcasters have caused more than 200 blackouts industry-wide, which is on a record one-year pace,” ATT said. “That’s already a more than 20% jump over the 165 in 2018.”
CBS says it has “reached timely, fair agreements with hundreds of other cable, satellite, telco and internet providers to carry our industry-leading, fan-favorite programming. ATT, however, continues to propose unfair terms well below those agreed to by its competitors and may drop CBS unless we agree to those terms.”
How to watch your shows
ATT says customers in several of the markets can use Locast, a not-for-profit service offering users access to broadcast television stations over the internet.
“We are dedicated to helping our customers with new innovative ways to access this same content, including a new product called Local Channel Connector that puts local signals into program guides of our DIRECTV customers with Genie receivers, or adding the new Locast app into all of our Genie and U-verse Internet-connected receivers so customers can stream their local stations,” ATT said in its statement.
Many shows can also be viewed over the air or online at the network websites.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko
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