DIRECTV is in danger of losing more than 40 local Raycom stations in the coming days, according to viewer alerts posted today at the broadcaster’s web sites.
“Unfortunately, there’s a danger looming. The DIRECTV satellite system is about to drop us and break that critical link to our viewers,” reads the Raycom viewer warning. “We are currently working hard to make sure DIRECTV customers continue to have access to (the Raycom stations) ithout interruption. But there is a chance they will not agree to a fair deal, and decide to drop (Raycom) from their system.”
The alert does not say when the current carriage agreement between the companies is scheduled to expire. But when DIRECTV and Raycom engaged in a similar dispute in 2014, their agreement at the time was set to end on August 31.
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The two companies failed to reach a deal by August 31 in 2014, leading to a week-long blackout of Raycom stations before they signed a new pact. Since the last agreement was scheduled to end on August 31, that makes it possible that the current agreement will expire this year on August 31 as well.
TVAnswerman.com has asked DIRECTV for a response and will report back here if one is received.
Update: AT&T, which owns DIRECTV, issued this statement on Tuesday night:
“We want to keep our customers’ usual local stations in their DIRECTV lineups. Doing so requires permission from those stations’ owners, including Raycom Media, since FCC rules grant Raycom exclusive control over whether its stations remain available on DIRECTV. Raycom is currently threatening to block its stations from reaching our DIRECTV customers’ homes unless Raycom receives a significant increase in fees even though the same people can still watch its shows for free over-the-air and, often, online at each network’s website or using those same networks’ apps. Raycom has blocked its stations from reaching customers of other providers like DISH Network and Cox Cable before, while also threatening to disconnect others. We’d like to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably, and appreciate our customers’ patience while we attempt just that.”
The spokesperson would not comment when asked when the current carriage agreement expires.
Raycom, which has stations in large, mid-sized and small markets such as Tucson, Richmond, Virginia, New Orleans, Cleveland and Honolulu, has established a web site to inform viewers of any changes in the DIRECTV negotiations. The site is ourlocalcommitment.com .
To see a list of Raycom stations, click here.
— Phillip Swann