Nexstar Says DIRECTV is Manufacturing Blackout of ABC, CBS, FOX, & NBC Locals & FCC Shouldn’t Get Invloved





On Monday, DIRECTV filed an updated complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, asking the agency to investigate Nexstar over the blackout of local ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC stations as a result of their dispute. Now Nexstar, in a statement to Cord Cutters News, has argued that DIRECTV has “manufactured this crisis” and that the FCC shouldn’t get involved.

This new round of statements comes after a weekend where DIRECTV accused Nexstar of withholding local news and sports. Nexstar replied saying DIRECTV is misleading its customers.

This increasingly ugly dispute has resulted in Nexstar local channels remaining dark on DIRECTV for almost two months. While carriage disputes are common, the length and vocal nature of this fight stands out, and the back-and-forth suggests there isn’t an end in sight.

Here is the statement Nexstar sent to Cord Cutters News:

With yesterday’s FCC filing, DIRECTV continues its campaign to thwart fair marketplace negotiations and instead use the impasse it created to pursue its broader regulatory agenda.

DIRECTV has a history of this behavior.  Since 2019 it has dropped more than 150 channels or networks from its systems for various lengths of time.  In total, these drops have resulted in more than an entire year’s worth of programming being lost to viewers.

True to form, DIRECTV has manufactured this crisis by declining an extension that would have kept all of Nexstar’s stations available throughout this impasse.  Having chosen to drop Nexstar’s stations, DIRECTV is now attempting to use this self-created crisis to advance its longstanding regulatory efforts to undermine local broadcasters like Nexstar. 

DIRECTV’s arguments are baseless and self-serving, and its abusive filings should be ignored.  DIRECTV should stop making frivolous filings and focus on restoring the service it has denied to its customers.

Update DIRECTV has sent Cord Cutters News a replay to this statement from Nexstar:

“Nexstar is leveraging its anti-competitive market share to pull the rights for DIRECTV to distribute its stations while demanding higher rates that far exceed the value of the programming they’re providing, just as it did as the controlling party of Mission and White Knight stations during the middle of the football season in Oct. 2022 (sensing a pattern?). Unfortunately, by law DIRECTV cannot distribute these stations without a licensing agreement in place, and we hope the government will recognize the role they should play in addressing the broken retransmission consent framework.  In fact, as LightShed Partners put it this week, the time has come for regulators to pay attention to the rising costs of programming, “because retransmission is out of control like Nexstar is trying to get a dramatic increase in their renewal with DIRECTV who’s pushing back.”

Earlier this year, DIRECTV sued Nexstar, one of the largest owners of local television stations, along with fellow broadcasters Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting 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 said Nexstar’s action “threatens local television as we know it today.” At its core, the satellite company is fighting an effort to push up the cost of local TV. DIRECTV says that over the last 15 years, the cost of local TV rose 5,000%. Now it is arguing these three companies are working together to drive up prices even higher.

In the lawsuit, DIRECTV accused Nexstar of signing “sidecar agreements” with Mission and White Knight — essentially a way for Nexstar to divest its assets to friendly stations — to get around FCC ownership caps. Nexstar countered by arguing that their partnership to manage Mission and White Knight is legal. Nexstar has also pushed for this lawsuit to be dismissed.

Clearly DIRECTV and Nexstar seem to be far from a resolution in this fight. And both sides seem happy to take this fight public.

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