Another TV blackout took place over the weekend as DirecTV removed 25 TV stations owned by Mission Broadcasting from its satellite and U-verse pay-TV platforms in the latest dustup over retrans fees. Mission Broadcasting operates 25 network affiliates spanning Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Indiana, New York and 12 other states.
The move—which took place Friday night—is the latest kerfuffle in what has become almost a tradition now—removing over the air TV stations from pay-TV lineups during the popular NFL and college football regular season matchups and MLB playoffs.
Another tradition is the blame game statements that follow:
"Unfortunately, Mission Broadcasting and its 25 stations operated by Nexstar Media Group decided to exercise their right to block access to our customers in 23 cities," DirecTV said in a statement. "By law, Mission can refuse any compromise we offer and has the right to suspend any station from our customers’ local channel lineup – which we had wanted to avoid. We continue to work toward an agreement to deliver the entertainment our customers want at the best possible value. More information is available on TVPromise.com."
Mission was equally outraged:
"WNAC and DirecTV have a contract that allows them to carry our programming to you,” according to NextTV. “That contract has expired and DirecTV removed WNAC from your schedule. WNAC has presented a proposal for fair value, based on the importance and value our programming brings to our viewers. Despite our tireless efforts, DirecTV has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult. You might have seen them do this before. They will tell you it’s for your benefit, but don’t believe it. Our offer is fair. And now they hold you the subscriber hostage. It’s not right."
This most recent blackout follows last week’s incident between Verizon Fios and Nexstar Media Group, in which Fios removed 13 TV stations owned by Nexstar Media in 10 markets including New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, and Buffalo, impacting more than 2.3 million subscribers. Nexstar is also affected by the DirecTV- Mission outage as it manages Mission affiliates.
This put Nexstar in the crosshairs of the America Television Alliance which issued this press statement on Friday:
“This is now the third ongoing TV blackout in as many weeks from Nexstar,” said ATVA spokesperson Jessica Kendust. “Nexstar’s behind-the-scenes manipulation of three simultaneous negotiations has resulted in a significant loss of stations across the country, including major college and NFL football and postseason baseball games.”
Within the past two weeks, Nexstar has seen all its local stations and NewsNation taken off Verizon Fios, while White Knight Broadcasting, also controlled by Nexstar, pulled its NBC affiliate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and FOX affiliate in Tyler, Texas from DirecTV and U-verse.
“When massive conglomerate broadcasters like Nexstar use their power and influence to corner the market through sham management agreements with smaller broadcasters, consumers experience more frequent TV blackouts and see their monthly bills increase," Kendust added. "It’s time for Congress to reform outdated TV laws and put an end to this predatory practice.”
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Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.