More than 150 TV stations run by Tribune Media, Tegna and Media General could disappear late Wednesday/early Thursday from Dish, DirecTV and U-Verse if carriage deals between the stations and system operators lapse. Each case appears to come down to price.
At issue are Tribune Media’s agreements with AT&T U-Verse, Media General deals with DirecTV (recently acquired by AT&T) and the Tegna contract with Dish Network. Tegna (the former Gannett station group) controls 51 stations, Media General operates or services 71 and Tribune runs 42, according to their websites.
Tribune markets include Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington DC, Dallas and New Orleans. Media General operates stations in San Francisco, Buffalo, Austin and Columbus, Ohio among others. Tegna markets include Washington DC, New Orleans, Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, Houston and Seattle.
As tends to be the case in these showdowns, affected station groups paint the multichannel providers as villains and vice versa. Station owners are urging viewers to contact AT&T U-Verse/DirecTV or Dish to urge the providers to come to terms. Dish and AT&T U-Verse/DirecTV are pointing fingers too, asserting that stations ultimately are the ones who pull the plug on programming.
Dish said it had offered Tegna compensation under any new agreement that would be retroactive to October 1 if the station group would allow Dish to continue carriage during negotiations. Tegna countered on some station websites that “Dish has refused to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us” for terms “similar” to those other stations agreed to.
According to DirecTVPromise.com, “Media General is threatening to block your station’s signal unless they receive more than double the current fees.” To a customer posting on its Facebook page, AT&T U-Verse says, “AT&T makes every effort to reach fair agreements so we can continue delivering programs our customers enjoy. However, if reasonable agreements cannot be reached, AT&T will no longer have the rights to carry certain programs on U-Verse TV.”