Earlier this week DIRECTV, U-Verse, and DIRECTV STREAM subscribers lost Nexstar-owned ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliates, along with CW stations owned by Nexstar. Nexstar says DIRECTV rejected Nexstar’s offer to extend the current distribution agreement to Oct. 31, 2023, to give both sides more time to negotiate.
In total, 159 Nexstar-owned local TV stations are now dark on DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM, and U-Verse. NewsNation has also gone dark on DIRECTV.
This now raises the question of how long this blackout will last, and honestly, it could be a long one. Both sides have come out in a very public and messy way to accuse the other side of being unreasonable.
DIRECTV has accused Nexstar of asking for unwarranted price increases in a statement sent to Cord Cutters News. “Nexstar has a long track record of forcing programming outages in an effort to unnecessarily raise prices for everyone at the expense of the communities they are licensed and entrusted to serve,” said Rob Thun, chief content officer of DIRECTV. “We will continue to work with Nexstar to reach an agreement and will take all necessary actions to provide our customers access to their favorite programming while protecting them from unwarranted price increases.”
In a statement to Cord Cutters News, Nexstar pushed that they are just looking for a fair price. “Nexstar has been negotiating tirelessly and in good faith in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable multi-year contract with DIRECTV since May, offering the same fair market rates it offered to other distribution partners with whom it completed successful negotiations in the past year. Nexstar routinely reaches amicable retransmission and carriage agreements with its cable, satellite, and telco partners—in the last three years alone, the company has successfully completed agreements with more than 500 distribution partners.”
Nexstar has also accused AT&T, the main owner of DIRECTV of making $30 billion in revenue in the 1st quarter of 2023, 30 times that of Nexstar. Implying that AT&T can afford what they are asking.
DIRECTV has accused Nexstar of using blackouts as a way to drive up the cost of their content. DIRECTV sent Cord Cutters News this video about the blackout fight with Nexstar:
Not only are the two companies fighting at the negotiating table they are now fighting in court.
Earlier this year, DIRECTV announced it has sued 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.”
With all of this happening, it seems clear that both sides are far from reaching a deal. It is clear these talks have become a deeply heated fight, with both sides not holding back in court or in public about it. Anything could happen and a deal could be reached at any time but as of right now both sides seem far from reaching a deal.