DIRECTV could lose more than 40 local stations tonight due to a carriage dispute with their owner, Raycom.
Update: Raycom announced this afternoon that the current pact has been extended until Tuesday, September 5. So no blackout for now.
The current carriage pact between the companies expires at 11:59 p.m. ET tonight and Raycom has turned the heat up with a sharply critical notice posted yesterday at their station web sites.
“We have been working hard to reach an agreement to keep (Raycom) on DIRECTV’s lineup, but time is running out and they have refused to come to a fair agreement to continue carrying us,” the station notice states. “It’s unfortunate, but it has happened before. Since 2015, DIRECTV has dropped local channels from their system 14 times, leaving millions of their customers in the dark.”
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Raycom was referring to past carriage disputes between DIRECTV and local broadcasters which ultimately led to blackouts, albeit usually for a week or less. However, it should be noted that DIRECTV did not ‘drop’ the channels; the broadcasters pulled their signals when the carriage agreement ended. By law, a pay TV provider can not carry a local station without its permission.
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.
DIRECTV has not commented on this dispute since last week when Raycom first began alerting their viewers that a blackout was possible. At the time, the satcaster said Raycom was requesting a “significant” increase in carriage fees, a charge denied by the broadcaster.
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.
DIRECTV and its owner, AT&T, are involved in another carriage dispute with two local stations owned by Dispatch. The deadline for a new agreement with Dispatch is tomorrow night.
Update on Friday, September 1: Dispatch has also extended its deadline for a new carriage pact, although it’s unknown when the new deadline is. However, there will be no blackout today, September 1.
— Phillip Swann