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DirecTV Dispute With Tegna Sees Millions Lose Access To Local Channels

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DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and U-verse have now lost access to 64 stations in 51 markets, due to a dispute with Tegna. DirecTV has had its fair share of disputes in recent years. Back in July, for example, a dispute with Nexstar resulted in the loss of more than 150 channels, and these channels remained unavailable up until a new deal was agreed in September.

While the dispute with Tegna is not quite as far-reaching, it is still broad enough to impact millions of customers. Those unsure if they are affected can input their service and ZIP code on DirecTV’s TV Promise website to check if they have lost access to any channels as a result of this dispute.

As is often the case with blackouts, this one has come about due to the end of an existing carriage agreement between DirecTV and Tegna, and the inability of the two companies to agree a new deal or extension.

The deadline to agree new terms or a temporary extension was 8 p.m. ET on Thursday (Nov. 30), which is when the blackout officially took effect.

According to DirecTV, “Tegna is demanding double-digit annual rate increases that would make it the most expensive broadcaster nationwide.” DirecTV goes on to suggest that agreeing to such a rate increase would inevitably lead to customers paying more for their subscription.

It’s disappointing, but certainly not surprising, that Tegna is just the latest to perpetuate what’s become the status quo for American broadcasters by using its territorial exclusivities and blackouts to extort ever-increasing rates for programming that remains free over-the-air,” said Rob Thun, chief content officer of DirecTV.

We just can’t do this anymore–these price increases are unsustainable for the average consumer. It’s a badly broken model that erodes trust, eliminates choice, and keeps delving deeper into the wallets of our already overtaxed customers,” said Thun.

Interestingly, and in a bid to ensure the channels didn’t go dark, DirecTV explains how it offered Tegna the option to put the decision in the hands of the consumer. Essentially, DirecTV says it offered a “first-of-its-kind a la carte model” where Tegna could set the price it wanted and customers could decide whether they wanted to pay a premium rate for those channels.

Tegna declined this offer, according to DirecTV.

Naturally, Tegna sees things very differently, with the company arguing it just wants an agreement that includes a fair market price for its stations.

Going forward, and is often the case when disputes like this surface, DirecTV says it is continuing to negotiate with Tegna in a bid to bring back the lost channels and programming.

In the meantime, DirecTV recommends customers use free over-the-air local stations and alternative streaming services to “access much of the same news, sports and entertainment” programming.

John Finn

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