AT&T customers hoping to relax with the morning news were surprised when they discovered that some of their local stations had abruptly been removed from their channel lineup without warning. Beginning at 11:59 p.m. on July 3, more than 120 stations, including ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliate stations, in 97 markets across the United States went dark due to failed negotiations between AT&T and Nexstar.
Customers attempting to view the channels are oftentimes met with a screen directing them to AT&T’s TVPromise website, where they receive the message, “Nexstar has removed its channels from your lineup even though we offered Nexstar more money to keep them available to you. Nexstar simply said no and elected to remove them from your lineups instead, putting you in the middle of its negotiations.”
According to Business Insider, the abrupt blackout follows DirecTV’s refusal to accept an offer of an unconditional extension of the existing distribution agreement to Aug. 2, which would allow Nexstar and AT&T more time to reach a new agreement.
“Unfortunately, AT&T/DIRECTV did not accept Nexstar’s offer for an extension which would have allowed viewers in the affected markets to view their favorite network shows, special events, sports, local news and other programming on the Fourth of July and until such time as a new agreement can be reached,” Nexstar said in part in a statement on their website.
“Contrary to AT&T’s public statements, Nexstar in no way pulled its stations or asked for their removal from AT&T/DIRECTV’s DIRECTV, U-verse or DIRECTV NOW platforms. Nexstar is also reiterating its offer of an unconditional extension of the existing distribution agreement for 30 days to restore the blacked-out programming to viewers and allow the parties to reach a new agreement.”
The blackout, now several days in, affects both DirecTV and AT&T U-verse users, with many taking to social media to air their grievances.
In the age of profits before people, loyal local viewers and reliability on emergency services loose. Who’s going to take responsibility for the demented individual who turns to the local channel for help in a weather, earthquake, or attack? Shame on #ATT #nexstarmediagroup— Jennifer Huder (@huder_jennifer) July 9, 2019
According to Nexstar, they remain “eager to complete an agreement with DIRECTV consistent with those it has made with every other cable, satellite and telco provider.”1comments
AT&T, which is the largest pay TV provider in the U.S., with 24.5 million subscribers, has also stated its hopes to “return your local channels as soon as possible.”
For those currently without their favorite channels, there are still other ways to view them. As AT&T states, many of the stations can be “viewed over the air or online at the station websites.” Nexstar adds that “local cable providers, DISH, over-the-air, certain subscription streaming television services, and services such as Verizon’s FIOS” can help customers tune in to their local stations.