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Hearst Affiliates Dropped From DirecTV, AT&T TV NOW, & AT&T U-Verse

Jason Gurwin

After a short-term extension, AT&T and Hearst failed to reach a new carriage deal. As a result, DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse, AT&T TV, and AT&T TV NOW customers across the country saw 34 local affiliates in markets like Pittsburgh, PA, Kansas City, MO, Milwaukee, WI, Oklahoma City, OK, and Omaha, NE go dark. 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 posted the following message on their website:

DIRECTV and Hearst Television have reached an impasse in negotiating a renewal retransmission consent agreement for the carriage of Hearst Television’s broadcast stations on DIRECTV’s satellite system and its internet-delivered platform AT&T TV Now (formerly known as DIRECTV TV Now). We have made significant investments to deliver top tier programming to our viewers and DIRECTV is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable.

To be clear, we have not “blacked out” our station. You may continue to receive our station for free, over the air, or by other satellite distribution, and, where available, from cable operators.

For customers in different markets, AT&T has posted the following statement:

We’re disappointed to see Hearst Television suspend WCVB-ABC and WMUR-ABC from our customers’ lineups. We must have Hearst’s permission to offer WCVB-ABC and WMUR-ABC and asked Hearst to keep WCVB-ABC and WMUR-ABC available while we conclude a new business agreement privately. Hearst refused and chose to withhold WCVB-ABC and WMUR-ABC instead.

We remain on the side of consumer choice and value, whereas Hearst is known to often withhold its stations to try to increase its fees for free broadcast TV. DISH Network, Charter Spectrum, Cox Communications and our own customers have all gone without Hearst stations before. Fortunately, WCVB-ABC and WMUR-ABC programs remain available for free over the air on channels 5 and 9 and are also often available to stream at the WCVB-ABC and WMUR-ABC websites, and to fans using the WatchABC mobile app.

These same stations also remain available for streaming through the new Locast interactive app on DIRECTV Genie and U-verse internet-connected receivers. We share our Boston customers’ frustration, regret any inconvenience and appreciate their patience while we work to settle this matter as immediately as possible.

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.