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The Streamable Search

CBS-Owned Affiliates on DirecTV, DIRECTV NOW, & AT&T U-Verse Could Disappear Tonight

Jason Gurwin

As the fighting continues between AT&T and CBS, it looks less likely that a deal will be struck by 11pm PT tonight. If the two sides can’t agree to a new carriage deal — DIRECTV NOW, DirecTV, and AT&T U-Verse customers in the 17 markets with CBS-owned local affiliates will lose CBS from their service.

The markets affected include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Tampa, Seattle, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

In a statement this morning, AT&T claims that they “have offered to pay CBS an unprecedented rate increase and the highest fee we currently pay to any major broadcast network group. CBS has refused. We also asked CBS to allow us to sell its CBS All Access streaming service.”

CBS has said that they are “negotiating resolutely and in good faith with DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW and AT&T U-verse TV to reach a fair market value agreement for its programming. AT&T, however, continues to propose unfair terms well below those agreed to by its competitors and may drop CBS unless we agree to those terms.”

The latest dispute comes just weeks after Nexstar, the largest local affiliate owner, had their channels removed from DirecTV, DIRECTV NOW, and AT&T U-Verse.

This is the fifth major carriage dispute for AT&T in as many months — including with smaller station owners Northwest Broadcasting, Deerfield Media, Roberts Media, Second Generation of Iowa, GoCom Media, MPS Media, Howard Stirk Holding, and Waitt Broadcasting. The service recently renegotiated deals with Viacom and A+E, while dropping NFL Network

It is unlikely that the channels would disappear forever, but it is not unheard for local channel disputes to last multiple months. Last year, PlayStation Vue and Sinclair Media Group were in an extended battle that saw many locals dropped from the service, only to return a few months later.

Fortunately customers still have options. CBS is one of the few channels that offer their local affiliate live through their own service CBS All Access which is available for $5.99 after a 7-Day Free Trial.

AT&T Full Statement

CBS placed our customers into the middle of negotiations this week by taking business discussions public. With our contract expiring tonight, we want to update our customers on the status of our talks.

In negotiations like these with CBS, Nexstar and others, we are fighting on behalf of our customers against the unsustainably growing retransmission fees charged by those companies. At the same time, we want to avoid any unnecessary interruption to CBS-owned stations or national channels that some of our customers care about.

To that end, we have offered to pay CBS an unprecedented rate increase and the highest fee we currently pay to any major broadcast network group. CBS has refused. We also asked CBS to allow us to sell its CBS All Access streaming service. Again, CBS refused even though CBS already allows our competitors like Roku and Amazon to market that stand-alone offering. The reason for CBS’ refusal is because CBS and other companies that own local CBS affiliates – such as Nexstar, Tribune and Sinclair – want to limit customers’ choices so broadcasters can keep using blackouts to cut off consumer access and inflate their fees. Either way, consumers lose.

Given these factors, it’s become clear to us that CBS is intent on blacking out any home that chooses to receive cable or satellite service to up-sell CBS All Access subscriptions. CBS has said publicly that between 2018 and the end of this year it will significantly increase prices on roughly 75 percent of any homes that opt to receive their content via cable or satellite. CBS has also said publicly that it priced All Access that much higher to capitalize on customers it can capture from cable, satellite or other means of distribution.

CBS has likewise rejected our request to provide our customers with past episodes and entire seasons of shows, which is content that other programmers routinely provide to our customers.

Overall, CBS has rejected AT&T’s desire to offer our customers more choice over the content they wish to receive while also getting much better value.

Make no mistake. We want these CBS owned-and-operated local broadcast stations in our lineup. But customers today are demanding more value from their TV offerings and we must convince companies like CBS to accept the same call to action that our own TV customers have made clear.

If CBS pulls its channels tonight, the vast majority of our TV homes in thousands of different cities will continue to receive their local CBS station the same as before. For customers who do not, CBS shows also remain available in many affected cities through the new Locast app on DIRECTV Genie and U-verse internet-connected receivers. We are also able to offer our customers an innovative product called Local Channel Connector that can put local broadcast station signals into the program guides of many DIRECTV customers with Genie receivers. Both of these options could be helpful for football fans if CBS’ removal carries on into the college and pro seasons.

Fans of any of the 14 CBS local stations involved can also watch over the air and typically at the station website, at CBS.com or using the CBS app. CBS Sports Network and Smithsonian Channel stream their shows via their own network websites and mobile apps.

Our goal is simple: to deliver the content our customers want at a value that also makes sense to them. We continue to fight for that here and appreciate our customers’ patience.

CBS Full Statement

CBS Corporation, owner of America’s Most Watched Network, is negotiating resolutely and in good faith with DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW and AT&T U-verse TV to reach a fair market value agreement for its programming.

CBS has reached timely, fair agreements with hundreds of other cable, satellite, telco and internet providers to carry our industry-leading, fan-favorite programming. AT&T, however, continues to propose unfair terms well below those agreed to by its competitors and may drop CBS unless we agree to those terms.

CBS would like to avoid being dropped, but unless an agreement is reached, our viewers should be prepared for DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse TV to remove CBS-owned television stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Tampa, Seattle, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore at 11:00 PM, PT on July 19. DIRECTV NOW customers nationwide would lose the CBS Television Network’s hit programming as well.

AT&T’s willingness to deprive its customers of valuable content has become routine over the last few weeks and months, and recent negotiations have regularly resulted in carriage disputes, blackouts and popular channels being removed from their service.