DIRECTV has recently informed subscribers that a handful of channels have been removed from their lineups because they apparently weren’t watching them. The channels include The History Channel, A&E Network, Vice, and Lifetime Movies, according to subscribers who have posted complaints on social media sites. All four channels are owned by A&E Networks, a joint venture owned by Disney and Hearst.
See update at the bottom of this article.
The satcaster has notified the subscribers that they can get the channels back at no extra cost by visiting directv.com/channel-opt-in .
The unusual policy came to light today when the TV Answer Man asked DIRECTV about Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Twitter post from Saturday in which he said The History Channel was pulled from his lineup. A DIRECTV spokesman this evening issued this e-mail response to our inquiry:
“We recently informed customers who have not actively engaged in History and other select channels that the content will no longer appear in their lineup. Any interested customers who are not seeing it yet want to add it back at no additional cost can visit www.directv.com/channel-opt-in.”
It’s unclear if Grassley lost The History Channel due to not ‘actively engaging’ in the channel, or whether it was because The History Channel, A&E Network, Vice and Lifetime Movie Channel were recently removed from DIRECTV’s Entertainment plan regardless of whether subscribers were watching them or not.
However, the four channels are still listed in DIRECTV’s Choice plan, which is $5 to $20 a month extra than Entertainment. And Grassley later tweeted that he learned that he would have to pay extra to get The History Channel, which could suggest he lost it from the Entertainment package.
The TV Answer Man has asked DIRECTV for further clarification such as whether the opt-in policy includes other channels, how it is determined whether the subscriber is “actively engaging” in the channels, and whether Sen. Grassley lost The History Channel due to the new policy or because it was removed from the Entertainment package.
We have also asked Sen. Grassley’s office for a comment and will report back here if we get more information from DIRECTV or the senator.
The opt-in removals has caught many subscribers by surprise.
“I’m furious, got a email from DirecTV that they are removing vice, history and A&E to opt in for the channels free of charge go to the link and it says thanks the channels will be removed! WTH!,” tweeted @harsty19901 last month.
One upset customer posted a notice from DIRECTV saying the channels will be removed unless they opt-in to return them. The notice was posted at satelliteguys.us.
“I received a card in the mail from @Directv saying that I will lose History and A&E channels on December 8th unless I choose to opt in for these channels for no additional charge. Is this legit?” tweeted @Doublejgrimes.
DIRECTV’s Twitter customer service team responded that it was indeed true.
“Let us bring some light into this,” @DIRECTVHelp wrote. “That’s correct, there are going to be some changes in the content, however no worries, you can log into your online account here: direc.tv/30bTXl7 and following the steps to request to keep the channels.”
Update: NextTV.com reported on Wednesday, December 15, that DIRECTV has restored the four A&E channels to the lineup of existing customers without them having to opt-in. The removal generated significant criticism online which apparently led to DIRECTV returning the A&E networks. However, they remain off the Entertainment package for new customers.
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— Phillip Swann