Yesterday DIRECTV filed a complaint with the FCC saying Nexstar is blocking its ability to offer The CW in markets owned by Sinclair, according to a copy of the letter DIRECTV sent to Cord Cutters News.
In a letter to the FCC, DIRECTV said:
Last week, it expanded this blackout to include CW network programming on Sinclair owned and managed local stations on DIRECTV’s streaming service. It has, in other words, dragged into its dispute new viewers of a competing broadcaster against their will and regardless of DIRECTV’s agreements to serve these viewers.
This behavior reveals what is truly motivating affiliates’ calls for regulation of online providers. It is not local news; it is their economic position. Broadcast affiliates, including Nexstar, have complained that networks control negotiations with online providers to the detriment of local stations, especially local news. Now that it owns a network, however, Nexstar has done just that—required another broadcaster to black out programming on its local stations notwithstanding agreements that other broadcasters had negotiated. Nexstar’s conduct shows that affiliates’ attempt to regulate online providers has never really been about “preserving local broadcasting” or anything else of the sort. Affiliates simply want the government to give them leverage against the networks.
DIRECTV went on to say:
Now, moreover, Nexstar has found an additional source of leverage: viewers of CW programming on stations not owned or controlled by Nexstar. Nexstar purchased the CW Network last October.
DIRECTV carries 21 CW-affiliated stations owned or managed by Sinclair Broadcast Group pursuant to retransmission consent agreements (in the case of its satellite service) and copyright license agreements (in the case of its streaming service) it has negotiated with Sinclair. On July 11, Sinclair told DIRECTV that these stations are no longer authorized to provide CW network content to DIRECTV’s streaming service because Nexstar had withdrawn Sinclair’s rights to do so.
Sinclair thus required DIRECTV to black out this programming from its streaming service, and DIRECTV complied with this directive beginning on July 12.
This comes as the two companies are in a heated and very public fight over what DIRECTV must pay for local stations owned by Nexstar. Both sides have been very public in their fight over what is a fair price for local ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliates owned by Nexstar.
Now it seems both sides are doing anything they can to put pressure on the other to agree to their demands.
For now, though subscribers are caught in the middle as Nexstar wants more money and DIRECTV pushes back against their demands.