Why Some DIRECTV Subs Could Lose Network TV Channels


Q. I just got a message from DIRECTV saying I will no longer get out-of-market network channels on June 1. What the Hell?! Is this AT&T’s doing again? What’s going on with this? — Ivan, Leonardtown, Maryland. 

DIRECTV, which is owned by AT&T, is now notifying some customers that they could lose their network TV channels (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) on June 1. But it’s not AT&T’s fault, Ivan. Let me explain.

See update: DIRECTV Keeps Fox In Local Channel Fight

For more than two decades, some DIRECTV and Dish subscribers have been eligible under the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act to receive the signals of network affiliates outside their markets. Normally, pay TV viewers are prohibited from receiving ‘distant network signals (DNS)’ because local broadcasters want them to watch their signals. But the law provided an exception for residents in remote areas where the satcasters were unable to deliver the local signals.

However, Congress last year did not renew the law, and it’s scheduled to expire on June 1, which is why DIRECTV is notifying subscribers that they could lose the distant networks on that day.

“Regretfully, we must inform you of a new law that affects your programming,” the DIRECTV customer message states. “Until recently, the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR) Act authorized DIRECTV to provide you access to your out-of-market broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, NBC, CW, and/or FOX. Unfortunately, Congress has decided to not renew key provisions of this law. As a result, on June 1, 2020, we no longer will be able to provide you access to these out-of-market channels. These are not available anywhere else. However, this change does not affect access to your existing local network stations.”

It’s unclear how many DIRECTV customers will lose the channels. (AT&T says it’s in the ‘tens of thousands.’) But AT&T is concerned enough to urge Congress to pass a temporary extension, noting that some customers could lose access to important news updates during the Coronavirus outbreak.

“These unique subscribers presently have no other way to obtain this network programming except through distant signals,” the company said in a letter to Congress which was obtained by Multichannel News. ““Unfortunately, this means disrupting these customers’ service and access to important news and entertainment during this time of emergency.”

The chances of an extension are uncertain at best.

The National Association of Broadcasters, which has a powerful lobby in Washington, D.C., opposes any new deadline, charging that AT&T could deliver the local network signals to the rural residents if it were willing to invest.

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46 comments on “Why Some DIRECTV Subs Could Lose Network TV Channels”

      1. however, Dish carries Pac 12, AT&T doesn’t/ Ive kept Direct because of the fact I have been able to get my Giants football games on east coast channels
        If I do get the Sunday ticket free, i’ll stay for the season. Dish is offering me a 300$ master card to swap….

  1. The National Association of Broadcasters, which has a powerful lobby in Washington, D.C., opposes any new deadline, charging that AT&T could deliver the local network signals to the rural residents if it were willing to invest.

    WHAT do they have to INVEST IN ?
    Just leave them alone, NO new equipment to buy, or anything to pay for.

    If it AIN”T BROKE, DON’T FIX it

      1. I really enjoyed my east and west network channels. I paid extra to have them just like paying for hbo, stars and others. Yes I was grandfathered in as an existing customer. I stayed direct for that reason. I will be looking for another provider or a streaming service. Very upset.

      2. Lost ABC, CBS, NBC (never had CW) yesterday about 6 p.m. PDT, but still have FOX East and West coast feeds. Why is that?

  2. I hardly ever watch major networks except for sports. I have Comcast for internet. Local channels also include generally crappy extra digital networks. AT&T just presented me with free Sunday Ticket. But afterwards, why stay with DirecTV when there’s no difference from Comcast?

  3. Well, I will lose CBS on June 1st. AT&T failed to negotiate a contract with our local channel. There is no cable where we live and streaming is iffy as we receive or internet through Viasat. Thinking about dumping both of them. Kind of forgotten in the mix if you live rural. Thanks Congress..

  4. We have had network channels for ever why take them away please Congress pass law and let us have network channels I bet u all watch them so just pass it already and be done with it we need them how would u feel that u couldn’t watch your shows this summer we have new shows coming out and also sports also

  5. That really sucks we have the east coast feed that allows us to watch prime time shows 3 hours earlier. Which is good when you go to bed at 7:00 on the west coast.

  6. I hope this isn’t a congress Democrats agenda. How can you stop something that hasn’t been reviewed to be renewed. When they aren’t even there to represent us.

  7. I’ve had Directv since 1994…bot the system for $700. I’ve had the same package for 26 years. Directv no longer offers it. At the beginning (’94) I was given waivers from ABC, CBS and FOX…I receive West coast feeds and East coast feeds. NBC never gave me a waiver, they claim I could receive their signal. Who can WE…WRITE to or CALL to voice our complaints. I live on a side of a mountain in Montana. Thanks for all you do for us.

      1. I’m in Oregon, on the coast. I wrote to my Senator and Congressman, and I got a generic “I hear you” e-mail. Other State Reps might be more helpful. Thank you for this forum, it is very helpful to hear what other frustrated people are saying

    1. We are in the same boat. Been with direct over 20yrs we are a mile away from being able to get service. Now our feed is gone we can’t even get radio signal. I am so angry we ha no recourse

  8. I have been a customer of DiirecTv since 1984 and have had East & West network stations for all those years! No local networks are available at my rural Montana home! Way to go Congress! I will no longer need DirecTv,, I guess!

  9. I have been living in Pennsylvania for 25 years trying to pretend I don’t live here and have been getting distant networks NY LA the whole time. Very sad I’ll have to watch these loser local yokels now. disgusting

  10. I live in my motorhome when I called DIRECTV when I got the message they said my satellite system should provide me the local channels I said you don’t know what you’re talking about I live in my motorhome I can’t get local channels I don’t have cable I only have the distent networks. Between the government and DIRECTV it’s like big Brother is watching you just taking all all the way they have all the power. They also have the power to stop this from happening. Help us that live in Mobil vehicles to have the network channels

  11. Is there somewhere I can go to sign to keep the east/west channels? We live very rural and local channels are not always working. We also like being able to watch our shows early due to our schedule. This will suck!

  12. If AT&T wanted to keep the channels they could make it happen. They don’t want to and thousands will lose their stations. I have had this since they came into existence have always advocated for DirecTV but since AT&T took over it has gone up in price and the service sucks. It is a shame that a company like AT&T is able to ruin what was such a good company. Like most others I will be calling Dish Network which is cheaper, (especially when you are mobile) to get their service.

  13. God dammit! I’m out of my viewing area in my Rv and have no ABC,CBS, NBC west or east channels I pay for. Grandfathered in for the last 25 years! If I’m in another area I need programming for that area. Weather and news. Now that puts me in danger of no localized info.

  14. Now I am going to look for other options for TV. I was also grandfathered in for the last 25 years. I live in a rural area and Local TV here is terrible. The ABC, CBS, NBC west & east channels were the main reason I have stayed with Directv. This really stinks!!!

  15. This is a shame, I will be switching to Dish or just start streaming my shows. I am also a 20 year plus customer of Direct T.V.

  16. Today I lost all my network television! I live in West Texas (Senators Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, and Representative Mike Conaway). It’s bad enough I cannot get internet access, now I can no longer receive networks via DirecTV (or off-air)! Thanks Congress! Thanks AT&T. No options! No one cares!

  17. I was told earlier in the month that if I updated my package, I could receive local networks for free. I called to update to the newer package and this woman told me the only way I could get local networks was to stick an antenna in my yard. Seriously! Does anyone there know what they are doing? Last night I was put on terminal hold. After 15 minutes, I hung up. I really like the quality of Directv compared to our local cable company, but it’s not looking good for them.

  18. I don’t even want watch the local news , on top of that I am forced to have religious and political programs witch are BULL S-T … !

  19. We have been with Direct TV since 1998. We also are unhappy with losing the west coast NBC/ ABC feed. We will be looking to change also!

  20. I also lost the same networks after being grandfathered in but on my tv it just keeps that I haven’t subscribed to? The code 721 keeps showing up

  21. Wrote to our Oregon Senators and Congressman, got no response! Grandfathered in for East/West networks early in 1990’s. Live in rural coastal area, local broadcast comes from area six hours East, unwanted! Is there any company willing to care about the many thousands of customers. Enjoyed learning about all of America, not what our elected officials want, or is this.

  22. I have 3 direct tv boxes that I own .. they were authorized for east and west coast feeds for 20 years … is it possible to find a “ Friend “ with the same problem at opposite side of the US , and simply trade an authorized box – like for like ??

  23. Don’t think that will work as the programming is determined by DTV and not the box. I have a box from back in the early nineties and it will no longer get the feeds. The only thing I know to do is use your dollar vote and go with someone else. It is too bad for folks like us that have been loyal to them for over thirty years and they are not willing to fight for us. I spoke with them and told them about my displeasure and they comped my bill 60 bucks for one year. He said he believed there were over 200K in the same boat of the 800K subscribers.

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