The American Television Alliance, which advocates for the traditional pay-TV players in cable and satellite, lauded DIRECTV’s suggestion that local broadcasters charge its customers directly for access to local affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX networks, which it made to broadcast owner Tegna in talks that broke down last week, resulting in another blackout.
The a la carte plan was part of an offer DIRECTV made to Tegna, which the local broadcaster owner rejected. DIRECTV saw it as a solution to the constant increase in retransmission fees, or what cable and satellite companies need to pay to carry those local channels, which DIRECTV Chief Content Officer Rob Thun told Cord Cutters News last week was driving prices up and forcing its subscribers to leave. Thun said that the current dynamic is forcing the company to consider whether to cut out locals entirely.
The American Television Alliance largely echoed DIRECTV’s justifications for an a la carte model in its statement.
“The video marketplace has experienced drastic changes in the more than three decades since retransmission consent was created, and DIRECTV’s proposed solution to this broken regime proves its commitment to evolve alongside the industry,” said ATVA spokesperson Cora Mandy. “We applaud DIRECTV’s approach in these negotiations, placing consumer access to affordable, diverse programming at the center of discussions. We encourage TEGNA and other broadcasters to consider this framework and create a customer-friendly model that gives consumers more choice in their subscription package.”
It’s unclear, however, whether consumers would embrace the idea of paying extra for local channels, something that’s always been part of the pay-TV bundle and available for free through an over-the-air antenna.
Tegna has slammed the proposal as another fee DIRECTV wants to tack on to consumers, and said it was only seeking fair compensation for the value of its programming. A spokeswoman reiterated a previous statement on the proposal.
“We’re committed to reaching an agreement that continues to ensure all of DIRECTV’s subscribers in our communities have access to the local and national news, sports and entertainment our stations offer, while providing our stations with the fair compensation they need to continue their significant investments in the content viewers value,” she said. “In contrast, DIRECTV’s proposal to instead require its customers to pay yet another standalone fee for our local stations – unlike all other broadcast stations – disserves subscribers and is not productive.”
For now, the blackout continues with DIRECTV and Tegna seemingly far apart.