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DIRECTV Loses 48 Stations In 2 Fee Fights – UPDATE #3

Update #3: Cox Media and DIRECTV announce new deal. See details. 

At the crack of midnight on New Year’s Day, DIRECTV lost 48 local stations in two separate fee fights.

Thirty-three stations are owned by Hearst Television, including the ABC affiliate in Boston, the NBC affiliate in New Orleans, and the NBC station in Baltimore, while 15 are owned by Cox Media, including the Fox affiliate in Boston, the NBC affiliate in Pittsburgh, and the CBS affiliate in Seattle.

TVAnswerman.com has asked AT&T, which owns DIRECTV, for a comment, but the company has yet to respond.

Update #2: AT&T late this afternoon issued this statement:

“We want to get our customers’ usual local broadcast stations back into their lineups and share their frustration. Cox Broadcasting and Hearst Television are currently preventing their local signals from reaching our customers’ homes unless Cox and Hearst receive a significant increase in fees just to allow those same families to watch shows available for free over-the-air and that the broadcast networks typically make available for free online and through new digital apps. Cox and Hearst have both suspended their stations briefly from others providers’ customers before so we appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably.”

Cox Media stations posted notices this morning at their web sites that they are continuing to negotiate with DIRECTV and “expect to have a deal in place soon.”

Update #1: Cox’s corporate office issued a statement today at 9 am:

“It isn’t exactly a Happy New Year for AT&T U-Verse and DIRECTV subscribers in CMG’s markets. We are as confused as our viewers about why AT&T/DIRECTV has decided to remove our stations from their video service when CMG has for weeks now been offering AT&T/DIRECTV a fair deal to continue carrying our stations.

“Negotiations continue, and we expect this disruption to be brief considering that every other pay-TV provider has come to reasonable terms with CMG. We have made ourselves available twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week to get this deal done.”

Hearst stations also published online alerts of the blackout, but they added that they blamed DIRECTV for the “inconvenience.” The Hearst stations did not express any hope a deal would be reached soon.

In related news last night, NBC and Charter announced an unspecified time extension in their carriage negotiations. The current pact was scheduled to end at midnight but the extension will allow the channels to remain in Charter’s lineup while talks continue.

Channels that could be impacted by a blackout include the local NBC stations in Dallas, Los Angeles and New York as well as NBC-owned cable networks such as Bravo, CNBC, E!, and Syfy, among others.

Dish, which on Thursday lost the Bonneville-owned NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City due to a fee fight, last night lost two CBS affiliates, in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, due to a separate fee fight with Griffin Communications.

By federal law, a TV provider can not carry a channel without its consent.

— Phillip Swann