Today Nexstar started notifying customers that their contract with DIRECTV is coming up and that their locals could go dark soon. This comes as DIRECTV recently sued Nexstar over what it calls illegal collusion when it comes to how it negotiations local rights.
Now DIRECTV has started to fight back, saying Nexstar has a history of asking for significantly higher fees at every renewal.
“Nexstar, the nation’s largest broadcaster, is demanding to more than double the amount it charges our customers to access approximately 200 local stations it owns or controls in more than 100 metro areas that serve 68% of U.S. TV households. Unfortunately, Nexstar has a long track record of demanding significantly higher fees from all pay TV operators and often forces providers to stop carrying their channels during negotiations. DIRECTV will take the necessary actions to provide our customers access to their favorite programming while protecting them from unwarranted price increases.” DIRECTV said in a statement sent to Cord Cutters News.
Update: Nexstar has sent Cord Cutters News this statement.
“Nexstar has been negotiating tirelessly and in good faith to reach a mutually agreeable multi-year contract with DIRECTV since May, offering them the same fair market rates we offered to other large distribution partners with whom we successfully completed negotiations over the last three years. DIRECTV has continuously proposed rates that are well below market for the valuable network and local community programming provided by our station(s), leaving us skeptical of whether they are motivated to reach a fair agreement.
Nexstar routinely reaches amicable retransmission and carriage agreements with its cable, satellite, and telco partners. Since the beginning of 2020, Nexstar has successfully completed agreements with 500 distribution partners, covering more than 90 percent of the company’s nationwide footprint. In 2022 alone, we successfully completed agreements with more than 50 of our distribution partners, including several large distributors.”
DIRECTV told Cord Cutters News that over 200 stations including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and CW affiliates, could go dark along with NewsNation.
Fights like this are not unusual DIRECTV says Nexstar has threatened or removed stations it owns or controls from DIRECTV, DISH Network, Verizon FIOS, Altice USA, Comcast Xfinity, and FuboTV.
Earlier this year, DIRECTV announced it has sued one of the largest owners of local television stations, Nexstar, along with Mission and White Knight for what it calls illegal collusion. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
At issue here are DIRECTV’s allegations that “America’s largest broadcaster Nexstar Media Group continues to violate federal antitrust law by engaging in an illegal conspiracy with Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting to manipulate, raise and fix prices of retransmission consent fees”
DIRECTV says Nexstars’ action “threatens local television as we know it today.” At the core of the issue here is an effort to push up the cost of local TV. DIRECTV says that over the last 15 years, the cost of local TV is up 5,000%. Now they are arguing these three companies are working together to drive up the price even higher.
In the lawsuit, DIRECTV accuses Nexstar of suing a “sham sidecar agreements” with Mission and White Knight stations to go around FCC ownership caps.
“Mission and White Knight are now unlawfully coordinating with Nexstar to raise prices and extract supracompetitive retransmission consent fees from DIRECTV in ‘overlap’ DMAs—those markets where both Nexstar and either Mission or White Knight each own a Big-4 station,” DIRECTV states. “To accomplish this unlawful and anticompetitive aim, Mission and White Knight have entered into an agreement in which they have effectively relinquished decision-making authority to Nexstar.”
DIRECTV said in its suit that the trio routinely share confidential rates and other financial information through a single agent who can’t keep the details of one contract straight from another, closely align their respective blackout dates, and duplicate their public responses to the media to manipulate viewers and betray the public trust once they unilaterally pull their station signals.
A Nexstar spokesman sent Cord Cutters News the following statement. “Nexstar’s shared services agreements with White Knight and Mission Broadcasting are in full compliance with FCC rules, and each station group independently negotiations its own retransmission consent agreements with its cable, satellite, and telco partners. This lawsuit is without merit and Nexstar looks forward to prevailing in court.”
Now it seems that this fight with Nexstar could result in locals going dark on DIRECTV STREAM, DIRECTV, and U-verse. We will be keeping a close eye on this and will post updates as we learn more.