WASHINGTON—TVFreedom.org has bestowed its not so coveted title of “Pay TV Company Most Hostile to Customers” to AT&T in a recent statement. The coalition of local broadcasters and other broadcast related organizations reported that AT&T’s U-Verse and DirecTV services were responsible for a combined 52 percent of retransmission consent disruption in 2017.
TVFreedom.org makes the argument that AT&T has been hurting its own U-Verse telco video customers since its acquisition of DirecTV two years ago, saying it has been disrupting offerings from U-Verse and driving them to subscribe to the DirecTV satellite service. U-Verse subscribers account for 4 percent of the traditional TV marketplace, but 20 percent of local TV stations removed from air have been with U-Verse, per TVFreedom.org.
In 2016, a reported 1.359 million customers dropped U-Verse. DirecTV added 1.228 million new subscribers.
“AT&T has made no secrets of its intentions to phase out its U-Verse offerings and push subscribers to sign up for DirecTV, going so far as to promote the satellite service to U-Verse subscribers when they call customer service with complaints,” TVFreedom.org said in its statement.
“AT&T should not use an intentional contract dispute as an excuse to exploit and harm its customers, withholding from them the entertainment, sports and local news programming provided by local broadcasters. TVFreedom.org calls on AT&T to stop using television viewers as pawns in their business plan. Local TV viewers deserve better.”
AT&T did not immediately respond to a request to comment.