Updated: DIRECTV vs. Sinclair: Will There Be a Blackout?


Q. My local station on ABC is saying I could lose it this week if I have DIRECTV. Do you know about this fight and what will happen? Will I lose my channel 7 — Sadie, Clinton, Maryland. 

Sadie, Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns 136 local TV stations in 86 markets, is threatening to pull them from DIRECTV, AT&T TV Now and U-verse unless it reaches a new carriage agreement with their owner, AT&T.  (In addition, Sinclair says it will remove the Tennis Channel, which it also owns.) The deadline for a new deal is this Friday at 5 p.m. ET.

Update: Sinclair stations are still on as of Saturday, September 28, at 5:50 am. The two companies are apparently still negotiating; they have not offered a comment since yesterday.

Update#2: Sinclair stations say the deadline has been extended until 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 29.

Update #3: The companies announced a multi-year agreement on October 17. No blackout.

Click Amazon: See Today’s 1-Day-Only Deals!

In a press release last week, Sinclair said the previous agreement between the companies was scheduled to expire in August, but they agreed to a five-week extension while negotiations continued.

As is usual in these fee fights, Sinclair says it’s asking for what other pay TV providers have already agreed to pay them to carry their signals while AT&T says the broadcaster is asking for an unreasonable increase in the old rates. Since the contracts are never made public, it’s impossible to say who’s telling the truth. But as I always say, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle.

But the real question to answer now is whether the companies will fail to reach another short-term, or long-term, agreement by Friday, which would trigger a channel blackout on the three AT&T-owned TV services.

My prediction is that they won’t sign a new pact by Friday.

While AT&T last week negotiated a long-term deal with Disney, which prevented the blackout of ESPN and other Disney-owned channels, the Sinclair situation is different.


The loss of ESPN would have led to widespread subscriber defections across the country. However, the loss of the Sinclair stations, as popular as they may be, would likely create a small viewer protest. And, more important, the impact would be contained to those 86 markets where Sinclair has local stations, not the entire country.

Consequently, it’s easier for AT&T to take a harder line in the negotiations with Sinclair than it did with Disney. By example, AT&T has been in a fee fight with Northwest Broadcast, which owns 20 local stations, for almost eight months. And the telco was in a blackout dispute with 120 Nexstar-owned local stations for five weeks over the summer before reaching a settlement.

The telco is focusing now on reducing program acquisition costs, and is more willing than normal to allow a blackout to occur to get fees down.

So the odds are good that AT&T and Sinclair will fail to reach an agreement on Friday, leading to another blackout. I may be wrong, Sadie, and hopefully I am.

Need to buy something today? Please buy it using this Amazon.com link. This site receives a small portion of each purchase, which helps us continue to provide these articles.

Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at swann@tvpredictions.com. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.

— Phillip Swann

14 comments on “Updated: DIRECTV vs. Sinclair: Will There Be a Blackout?”

  1. I’ve been with Direct TV 20 years but will be having Dish installed Thursday morning! No Fox since July and now no CBS! RIDICULOUS!

    1. We have direct TV have never missed a payment if there is a black out will we get a rebate, I also will be getting rid of direct
      And going to comcast the price is the or

  2. At&t is the worst thing that ever happened to satellite tv ! We have purchased direct tv for many years and would love it if we could get it back ! Never liked controller on dish tv and don’t really care for channeling from at&t . All and all we would just like direct tv back with some updates ! Well there’s your dinner !

  3. I agree with Dan, ATT is garbage. Directv was fine before the purchase. If not for the SundayTicket I’d left a long time ago. Hopefully the NFL pulls it next year and I can be done with Directv

  4. What DirecTV doesn’t understand is that we football fans will watch CFB this Saturday on ABC whether it’s on DTV or not. We’ll subscribe to a streaming service to watch my Clemson Tigers play. It seams that DirecTV doesn’t get it, we might just like the streaming service better and dump them like a bad habit.

  5. Does DirecTV (STEVENSON) READ these comments ?
    I doubt it, They just keep skating by, hoping the customers will stay.
    They should LISTEN and change their ways.
    One day they will look around and say, (Wherd they go DOC)

    then start listening and DO what the Customers WANT .

  6. We have been with direct tv since they bought out prime star and now I am looking for new provider as we will be loosing cbs over greed. When they were just direct tv and no AT&T I do not remember customers losing stations. When I try to call customer service I get routed to India. When I ask to speak to someone in United States I am told no. You pay pennies for India operators but can’t feather agreement with Sinclair. I want a number for us based customer service. Then I read that you won’t make agreement with Sinclair for cbs as it is a small population losing it in upstate New York. Stop the greed and get rid of AT&T

  7. You both are terrible towards your SUBSCRIBERS. Directv took our NBC channel off for 8 weeks that started July 4th. Two years ago we lost CBS for 5 weeks some of the weeks the start of the new season. DIRECTV subscriber for 20 years .Has gotten far worse since AT&T bought in .I will never recommend Directv again .Especially if I miss my Buckeyes game Saturday night. If so I deserve a free month worth of viewing.

  8. Cut the cable! I divorced Direct TV in March 2019. Best thing I ever did. I bought an OTA antenna from Walmart for $40 and installed it in my attic. I’m over 60 miles from the broadcast towers and get 42 channels in crystal clear HD. I use a Tablo DVR (2 TB drive) to serve content (live and recorded) to 3 TVs. I use Roku Ultras for smart TV apps, such as Netflix and Prime. Bottom Line: I have the same TV experience as Direct TV (channel guide and ability to record one event or series) at ZERO cost per month. ESPN, FS1, NBCSN will require a subscription. Sling = $25 per month with no contracts.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.