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Update: DIRECTV, AT&T Lose 2 Stations In Fee Fight

DIRECTV and AT&T’s U-verse today lost two local TV stations due to a carriage dispute with their owner, Dispatch Broadcast Group.

The two Dispatch stations are WTHR-TV (NBC affiliate in Indianapolis) and WBNS-TV (CBS affiliate in Columbus, Ohio).

The companies agreed to a temporary extension late last month, but Dispatch issued a notice this afternoon saying the extension had expired and the stations’ signals had been pulled from DIRECTV and AT&T.

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“WTHR has completed numerous retransmission agreements in the past 12 months at fair market rates without any service interruption. Unfortunately, after offering an extension last Friday to hopefully reach a fair market deal, the deadline to reach a fair agreement with DirecTV and AT&T U-verse has passed, resulting in the interruption of service for WTHR viewers who watch our stations on those systems. We will continue to work towards a fair agreement with DirecTV and AT&T U-verse and hope to resolve this situation as soon as possible,” states the notice at the stations’ web sites.

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AT&T, which owns DIRECTV, has yet to comment on the blackout. The TVAnswerman.com has asked AT&T for a comment and will report back here if we receive one.

Update: AT&T has issued a comment:

“We want to get WBNS and WTHR back into our Columbus and Indianapolis customers’ lineups as soon as possible. Doing so requires permission from their owner, Dispatch Video…We share our customers’ frustration at situations like this one that are typically the result of stations owners seeking significant fee increases even though viewers are still able to watch the same programs for free over the air, and often, at network web sites or using the network mobile apps…All Dispatch needs to do is grant its permission, and we can have WBNS and WTHR back into our customers’ home within moments.”

DIRECTV is involved in another carriage dispute with Raycom, but the companies last night agreed to a temporary extension that will keep the Raycom stations on until September 13 at least.

— Phillip Swann