More than 100 Nexstar Media stations in 97 markets nationwide went dark on AT&T’s DirecTV, DirecTV Now and AT&T U-verse when the companies’ current contract expired overnight. Each blamed the other for the action.
Nexstar, one of the nation’s biggest station owners, said it had offered to extend the existing retransmission-fee contract to August 2 but AT&T refused. “The only conclusion that can be drawn from DirecTV/AT&T’s refusal to accept Nexstar’s offer of an extension is that rather than working on behalf of their subscribers, AT&T-DirecTV continues to raise prices while reducing channels and content offerings,” the company said in a release.
AT&T, meanwhile, said Nexstar rejected a sweetened offer and “elected to remove them from your lineups instead, putting you in the middle of its negotiations,” it said in a note to subscribers.
Nexstar owns, operates, programs or provides sales and other services to 174 local stations reaching nearly 39% of all U.S. television households. Its portfolio is primarily affiliates of NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, MyNetworkTV and the CW.
AT&T said on a website devoted to the dispute that “Nexstar pulls or threatens to pull their stations from the customers of TV providers to increase fees for stations far beyond their value. They’ve done it to Cox Cable, DISH, and Charter Spectrum, and now they’re doing it to us.”
AT&T said Nexstar is “demanding the largest increase that AT&T has ever seen from any content provider.”
Nexstar is near a deal to acquire Tribune Media for $4.1 billion, which when approved will make it the No. 1 owner of local TV stations in the U.S. In March it sold off 19 stations in 15 markets, a move that will net the company $1.32 billion in cash.
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