DirecTV has launched a lawsuit that claims three companies are illegally conspiring to charge customers more for access to over-the-air live TV channels. The companies in question are Nexstar Media Group, Mission Broadcasting, and White Knight Broadcasting.
Of the three, Nexstar is likely to be the most recognized by consumers considering that’s the company that currently owns and/or operates a number of local CBS and The CW affiliates, as well as NewsNation and Antenna TV, among others.
Regardless of their size or where they operate, Mission and White Knight were previously owned by Nexstar, and all three broadcasters are now facing a legal challenge (PDF) by DirecTV which accuses them of illegally conspiring “to increase content costs for free over-the-air TV.”
According to DirecTV, Nexstar Media Group violated federal antitrust law “by engaging in an illegal conspiracy with Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting to manipulate, raise and fix the prices of so-called retransmission consent fees that DIRECTV must pay to offer ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX local stations”.
Specifically, the ‘conspiracy suit’ announcement details how 27 local stations, collectively owned or operated by the three broadcasters, have remained unavailable “to several hundreds of thousands of DirecTV, DirecTV Stream, and U-verse consumers.” Again, according to DirecTV, consumers in the affected 25 cities haven’t had access to these channels since Oct. 7, 2022.
DirecTV appears to be taking particular aim at Nexstar here, accusing the company of being somewhat of a ringleader. DirecTV not only suggests that Mission and White Knight are “unlawfully coordinating” with Nexstar, but that the two smaller broadcasters have also “effectively relinquished decision-making authority to Nexstar”.
This collective approach and strategy, according to DirecTV, has resulted in the three broadcasters sharing confidential rates with each other, aligning blackout periods, and coordinating to raise prices.
The intention of the lawsuit is to now legally stop the three broadcasters from colluding as DirecTV alleges.