AT&T’s standoff with 25 Cox Media-managed local TV channels is now in its fifth day and subscribers are showing signs of impatience, particularly viewers of the five CBS affiliates who could miss tomorrow’s Super Bowl.
The carriage dispute, which began last Tuesday morning, includes KIRO-TV, the CBS affiliate in Seattle, KVIQ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Eureka, California, KYMA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Yuma, Arizona, WXVT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Greenwood, Mississippi, and WHIO-TV, the CBS affiliate in Dayton, Ohio.
DIRECTV, U-verse and AT&T TV subscribers have been unable to watch those channels since Tuesday and their anxiety levels are clearly rising on the eve of tomorrow’s kickoff with many posting angry comments on social media sites. While AT&T has issued a statement outlining some alternative ways to watch the game, the advice is not being well received by subscribers who are paying AT&T for their services.
“I can’t believe my wife and I can’t watch the Super Bowl because Directv and Cox tv cant reach a deal for channel 7 in Seattle,” tweeted John Clayton, the longtime NFL analyst who once worked for ESPN. “I’ve been to 45 Super Bowls. Missing my first since 1983.”
Clayton later told his Twitter followers that he installed an antenna in case the fee fight isn’t settled before Sunday. But he wasn’t about to give his TV provider credit for the suggestion.
“I now have an antenna that can get KIRO (the CBS affiliate in Seattle) so I can watch the Super Bowl,” Clayton wrote. “I thank all the people who reached out to help and the support of the people around the country. No help from DIRECTV. I thank the engineer who installed the antenna. Will watch game on KIRO.”
But it’s not just CBS viewers who are incensed over the blackout and, unlike Clayton, most subscribers seem equally angry at AT&T and Cox Media.
@DIRECTV I’ve deleted everything from this week and I realize that neither side gives a s— about the people that pays your bills so I’m going to boycott both I’m canceling direct tv and I won’t watch the super bowl or any Cox media channel,” added ‘John Lock.’
“Cox Media and DirecTV – you do NOT want to make us stop the car,” ‘Kimm Viebrock’ wrote cryptically. “CBS – don’t you have some skin in the game over the Super Bowl too? This is not the year to mess with us. We’re already on the edge. Figure it out.”
As of Saturday morning, there does not seem to be any indication that a settlement is imminent. AT&T released a letter it sent yesterday to Cox Media, demanding that the channels be returned. “I hope you agree with me that our shared customers deserve better,” the letter from AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh stated.
But it’s not surprising, or particularly newsworthy, that AT&T is demanding its channels back. That’s what a TV distributor does in a fee fight.
Cox Media has yet to respond publicly to the ‘demand’ letter.
Multichannel News has reported that AT&T officials yesterday asked congressional staff members for help in this dispute, and future fee fights involving any TV provider. But again there’s no evidence that the plea will impact AT&T vs. Cox Media.
Here is a list of the Cox Media stations that are now blacked out on AT&T’s 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