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AT&T Feud With Hearst Means Affiliates May Disappear From DirecTV, AT&T TV NOW, & AT&T U-Verse Tonight

Jason Gurwin

In what has been the year of blackouts, there may be another one on the horizon. AT&T, which narrowly avoided a blackout with Sinclair earlier this year, is on the verge of one with Hearst Television.

If AT&T and Hearst can’t come to terms by tonight, DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse, AT&T TV, and AT&T TV NOW customers across the country could see 34 local affiliates dropped in markets like Pittsburgh, PA, Kansas City, MO, Milwaukee, WI, Oklahoma City, OK, and Omaha, NE. Most of the affiliates are ABC networks (20), with NBC (10), CBS (2), MyNetworkTV (1), and The CW (1) affected in some markets.

Various Hearst affiliates has been posting messages of the potential blackout since Sunday.

DIRECTV and Hearst Television Inc. are currently negotiating a renewal of the retransmission consent agreement for the carriage of Hearst broadcast stations on DIRECTV’s systems. The current agreement expires at midnight on December 31, 2019.

Satellite distributors are prohibited by law from carrying broadcasters’ signals without their consent. The removal of the signal from the DIRECTV system will only result if negotiations between representatives of Hearst Television and DIRECTV are unsuccessful.

Hearst has a long history of successfully concluding carriage agreements with cable companies and other satellite distributors with no disruption of service to subscribers.

While we hope to conclude our negotiations before December 31st, so as not to deprive any of our respective viewers and customers of our programming, we want to advise our viewers and customers that the possibility of non-renewal of our current agreement exists.

Earlier this year, CBS was dropped in major markets on DirecTV and nationally AT&T TV NOW. Prior to that, Nexstar, the largest local affiliate owner, had their channels dropped DirecTV, AT&T TV NOW, and AT&T U-Verse. Those channels came back to AT&T-owned pay TV services after weeks of blackouts. The company manage to avoid a blackout of Sinclair-owned locals.