DIRECTV could lose 17 Meredith Broadcasting-owned local stations tomorrow unless a new carriage pact is signed by then, Meredith has alerted its viewers in web site notices.
The dispute also includes AT&T’s U-verse, which carries Meredith stations in some markets. (AT&T owns DIRECTV.)
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“We don’t know AT&T and DIRECTV’s plans,” the Meredith notice states. “By law, cable companies must negotiate in good faith with a television station before dropping that station’s signal. (Meredith) has been trying for months to get AT&T and DIRECTV to negotiate seriously…If AT&T and DIRECTV do not reach an agreement to carry (the Meredith stations, its) programming will not be available on AT&T and DIRECTV systems as of Friday, September 22.”
DIRECTV and Meredith are fighting over how much the satcaster should pay to carry the broadcaster’s signals.
(It should be noted that DIRECTV would not ‘drop’ the channels if a new pact is not signed; by law, a pay TV provider can not carry a local station without its permission.)
The TV Answer Man has asked AT&T for a comment and will report back here if we receive one.
Update: AT&T has issued a statement:
“We want to keep our customers’ usual local stations in their DIRECTV and U-verse lineups. Doing so requires permission from each station’s owner, including Meredith Corp., since FCC rules grant Meredith exclusive control over whether its stations remain available on either DIRECTV or U-verse. Meredith is currently threatening to block its stations from reaching our customers’ homes unless Meredith 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 that same network’s mobile app. Meredith has blocked its stations from reaching different providers’ customers before and also threatened to disconnect others. We’d like to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably, and appreciate our customers’ patience while we attempt just that.”
AT&T and DIRECTV are involved in three other carriage disputes. DIRECTV has been without two Dispatch Broadcasting-owned local stations for nearly two weeks due; AT&T is missing three Capitol Broadcasting-owned stations in North Carolina; and DIRECTV’s temporary carriage pact with Raycom expires tonight; without a new deal, DIRECTV could lose more than 40 Raycom stations tonight.
Update: DIRECTV and Raycom tonight signed another temporary pact; new deadline for a permanent deal: September 25.
Meredith has local stations in such large markets as Phoenix, Kansas City, St. Louis, Nashville, Atlanta and Las Vegas. See a complete list of Meredith local stations here.
— Phillip Swann