Q. These greedy, greedy companies make me so mad. DIRECTV doesn’t have my Fox station anymore because of some fight over money. It’s unfair to us viewers who pay them! When do you think this blackout will end? — Emily, Tulsa.
Emily, AT&T’s TV services, including DIRECTV, U-verse and AT&T TV, on Tuesday lost roughly 25 local TV channels due to a fee fight with Cox Media Group, and its owner, Apollo Global Management. The affected stations includes your Fox affiliate, KOKI-TV, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Since the dispute began, both AT&T and Cox have engaged in a war of words over who’s to blame. AT&T says Cox is purposely upsetting viewers so they will pressure their TV providers to settle while the latter says AT&T is refusing to accept the “reasonable terms” of a new carriage agreement.
The negotiations have taken on greater urgency because CBS will broadcast Super Bowl 55 this Sunday. The blackout includes five CBS affiliates, including Seattle. If the fee fight isn’t settled by then, everyone from the viewers to CBS to AT&T to the five affiliates will feel the sting.
However, despite that sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, I’m not hopeful there will be a settlement before Sunday. Dish last month finally settled its dispute with Cox Media, but the blackout lasted five months. You might say Dish has a history of prolonging these battles, which would be true. But it took Cox 20 days to settle its recent fee fight with cable TV provider Suddenlink. Clearly, the Cox team is not afraid of waiting.
In addition, AT&T last month took 19 days before settling a similar carriage dispute with Tegna, an indication that the telecommunications giant isn’t prone to pressure, either.
So I would expect AT&T vs. Cox Media to last at least another week or two before the companies settle.
Emily, sorry I can’t be more hopeful. But I will continue to monitor this situation and report back here if anything changes.
Final note: Below are the 25 channels that are now blacked out on AT&T’s three TV services:
KFFX-TV (Fox, Yakima, Washington)
KYMA-TV (CBS, NBC, Yuma, Arizona)
KIEM-TV, KVIQ-TV (NBC, CBS, Eureka, California)
WSYT-TV (Fox, Syracuse, New York)
KLAX-TV (ABC, Alexandria, Louisiana)
WABG-TV, WXVT-TV (ABC, CBS, Fox, Greenwood, Mississippi)
WICZ-TV (Fox, Binghamton, New York)
KMVU-TV (Fox, Medford, Oregon)
KAYU-TV (Fox, Spokane, Washington)
WSB-TV, Channel 2 (ABC, Atlanta, GA)
WFXT-TV, Channel 25 (FOX, Boston, MA)
WSOC-TV, Channel 9 (ABC, Charlotte, NC)
WAXN-TV, Channel 64 (IND, Charlotte, NC)
WHIO-TV, Channel 7 (CBS, Dayton, OH)
WFOX-TV, Channel 30 (FOX, Jacksonville, FL)
WFOX2-TV, Channel 32 (MNT, Jacksonville, FL)
WHBQ-TV, Channel 13 (FOX, Memphis, TN)
WFTV-TV, Channel 9 (ABC, Orlando, FL)
WRDQ-TV, Channel 27 (IND, Orlando, FL)
WPXI-TV, Channel 11 (NBC, Pittsburgh, PA)
KIRO-TV, Channel 7 (CBS, Seattle, WA)
KOKI-TV, Channel 23 (FOX, Tulsa, OK)
KMYT-TV, Channel 41 (MNT, Tulsa, OK)
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— Phillip Swann