Today, DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM subscribers lost Nexstar-owned ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates, as well as Nexstar-owned CW stations. The stations shut down at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. Nexstar says DIRECTV has rejected Nexstar’s offer to extend the current distribution deal until October 31, 2023, to give both parties more time to negotiate.
A total of 159 Nexstar-owned local TV channels are now dark on DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM and U-Verse. NewsNation also went dark on DIRECTV.
It comes as Nexstar warned customers late last week that their stations could go dark on DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM. Nexstar is the largest broadcaster of local television programs in the United States. Now millions of people will be deprived of some of their local stations on DIRECTV, U-verse and DIRECTV STREAM.
DIRECTV accused Nexstar of asking for unjustified price increases in a statement sent to Cord Cutters News. “Nexstar has a long track record of forcing program interruptions in an effort to unnecessarily raise prices for everyone at the expense of the communities they are licensed and charged to serve,” said Rob Thun, chief content officer. from DIRECTV. “We will continue to work with Nexstar to reach an agreement and will take all necessary steps to provide our customers with access to their favorite programming while protecting them from unjustified price increases.”
In a statement to Cord Cutters News, Nexstar insisted they were simply looking for a fair price. “Nexstar has been negotiating tirelessly and in good faith in an attempt to reach a mutually acceptable multi-year contract with DIRECTV since May, offering the same fair market rates it has offered to other distribution partners with whom it has successfully negotiated over the course of the past year. Nexstar regularly enters into out-of-court retransmission and carriage agreements with its cable, satellite and telecommunications partners. In the past three years alone, the company has successfully entered into agreements with over 500 channel partners.
Earlier this year, DIRECTV announced that it has sued one of the biggest ownersrs local television stations, Nexstar, as well as Mission and White Knight for what he calls illegal collusion. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
At issue here are DIRECTV’s allegations that “the largest U.S. broadcaster Nexstar Media Group continues to violate federal antitrust law by engaging in an unlawful conspiracy with Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting to manipulate, raise and fix the prices of retransmission consent fee”.
DIRECTV says Nexstars’ action “threatens local television as we know it today”. At the heart of the problem here is an effort to raise the cost of local television. DIRECTV reports that over the past 15 years the cost of local television has increased by 5,000%. Now they claim that these three companies are working together to drive the price even higher.
In the lawsuit, DIRECTV accuses Nexstar of pursuing “sham sidecar deals” with Mission and White Knight stations to circumvent FCC ownership caps.
“Mission and White Knight are now illegally coordinating with Nexstar to raise prices and extract supra-competitive retransmission consent fees from DIRECTV in “overlapping” DMAs – those markets where Nexstar and Mission or White Knight each own a Big- 4″, says DIRECTV. . “To achieve this illegal and anti-competitive objective, Mission and White Knight entered into an agreement in which they effectively ceded decision-making authority to Nexstar.”
DIRECTV said in its complaint that the trio routinely share confidential rates and other financial information through a single agent who cannot keep contract details directly from another, closely align their respective blackout dates, and duplicate their public responses to the media to manipulate viewers and betray the public trust once they unilaterally pull signals from their stations.
A Nexstar spokesperson sent Cord Cutters News the following statement. “Nexstar’s shared services agreements with White Knight and Mission Broadcasting are fully compliant with FCC rules, and each group of stations independently negotiates its own retransmission consent agreements with its cable, satellite and telecom partners. This lawsuit is without merit and Nexstar is eager to prevail in court.