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AT&T Feud With Sinclair Means Affiliates May Disappear From DirecTV, DIRECTV NOW, & AT&T U-Verse Next Week

Jason Gurwin

In what has been the summer of blackouts, there may be another one on the horizon. In early August, we reported that Sinclair’s deal with AT&T was about to expire. While the deal has expired, the two companies have been working on an extension — but without success. The pair now have what looks like a final extension in place that will expire next Friday, September 27th at 5pm ET.

If AT&T and Sinclair can’t come to terms, DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse, AT&T TV, and AT&T TV NOW customers across the country could see 136 local affiliates dropped, in addition to Sinclair-owned Tennis Channel. Sinclair’s recently purchased Fox Regional Sports Network are not a part of the current deal, so they won’t be affected.

“AT&T is the largest MVPD in the country and seems intent on using its tremendous market power to dictate to viewers which programming from other content providers they can receive, even as they continue to acquire content providers and push their own content to viewers,” stated David Gibber, Sinclair’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “Despite the tremendous market power of AT&T, most consumers of AT&T and DirecTV do have some other alternatives to receive our in-demand programming. Although it would be unfortunate to lose AT&T and DirecTV as customers, we are simply not prepared to sell our programming to them at the below market rates they are demanding due to their overwhelming market power.”

Sinclair has already been affected by the blackouts, as 19 of their local affiliates in which they had JSA agreements were dropped by AT&T in June. The company also had all of their CBS affiliates, which are negotiated by CBS directly, dropped by DIRECTV NOW in late-July.

The latest carriage negotiation comes after CBS nationally was dropped in major markets on DirecTV and nationally on DIRECTV NOW (now known as AT&T TV NOW). Prior to that, Nexstar, the largest local affiliate owner, had their channels dropped DirecTV, DIRECTV NOW, and AT&T U-Verse.

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