Updated, June 1, 9:30 a.m. ET
DIRECTV can no longer carry ABC’s ‘out-of-market’ channel under a new law, but it has signed last-minute deals with CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW to continue offering its programming to certain rural residents, RV owners and others who can’t get their local network affiliates through the satcaster.
For more than two decades, DIRECTV subscribers have been eligible under the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELAR) to receive ‘distant’ network affiliate feeds for NBC, ABC, Fox, CBS and the CW if DIRECTV does not provide their local channels. (The ‘distant’ signals have come from network affiliates such as those in Los Angeles and New York.)
Normally, pay TV viewers are prohibited from receiving ‘distant network signals (DNS)’ because local broadcasters want them to watch their channels. But the law provided an exception for people in remote areas where satcasters were unable to deliver the local signals. (Dish also used to provide distant locals, but no longer has to because it offers the market’s locals in all areas.)
However, Congress last year did not renew the law, and it expired today. AT&T, which owns DIRECTV, estimates that tens of thousands of the satcaster’s subscribers are affected by the change.
But Jim Greer, an AT&T spokesman, tells the TV Answer Man that his company has now secured new agreements with all the networks except for ABC. Due to the change in the law, the company was forced to negotiate new deals with the networks to continue offering its programming to subscribers who previously received the out-of-market signals.
“We negotiated with the major networks and completed deals with all the networks (Fox, NBC, CBS and CW) except for ABC. We are still in talks with ABC but can’t disclose any specifics. Our goal is to continue providing network content to as many homes as possible,” Greer said in an e-mail.
The agreements apparently were finalized after the new law went into effect. DIRECTV subscribers this morning posted messages on Internet forums such as DBSTalk.com and Twitter that they had lost the distant CBS, NBC and ABC affiliates, but that Fox remained.
“I was watching the LA Protest on NBC LA 393 and at 7:00 pm CDT the channel want off. That is the end (of the) DNS networks. I will miss them,” one DBSTalk.com user wrote last night.
“I live in northeastern PA. My DNS (E/W coasts) ABC, CBS, NBC were turned off. I still get FOX E/W (East/West),” added ‘FussyBob at DBSTalk.com.
We lost all but Fox around 6:15
— Scott Little (@slittle7) June 1, 2020
Final note: AT&T wouldn’t elaborate on whether all subscribers who have been receiving distant signals will continue to get Fox, NBC, CBS and the CW. But residential customers who had been getting out-of-market signals for Fox and NBC report that they were still getting them early this morning after the law changed.
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— Phillip Swann