DIRECTV is again removing four A&E-owned channels from subscriber lineups if the satcaster deems that the subscriber isn’t watching them very often.

The channels are: The History Channel, A&E Network, Vice, and Lifetime Movies. All four channels are owned by A&E Networks, a joint venture owned by Disney and Hearst.

DIRECTV late last year began notifying select subscribers that they would lose the channels because they didn’t watch them. The satellite TV service said they could get the channels back at no extra cost by visiting .

The opt-in program was apparently initiated to save money. Pay TV providers pay programmers carriage fees based in part on how many homes actually get the channels.

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However, after TV Answer Man published an article in December about the opt-in policy, an A&E spokesperson told NextTV that DIRECTV would return the channels to all customers who lost them. The policy, and the TV Answer Man article, had triggered a significant negative reaction in the DIRECTV audience.

The A&E statement seemed to end DIRECTV’s opt-in experiment, but some customers began complaining last week on social media sites that they suddenly lost the four A&E-owned channels without any warning.

“@DIRECTV  where is my History channel? I am getting increasingly frustrated with Directv. I see more and more greyed out space on my screen where channels used to be. I try my best to stay with you after 17+ years but i need a little help frm u,” tweeted ‘Kaleani.’

“Pretty sure I had History Channel two days ago on @DIRECTV ?????” added ‘Reader.’

“So I have Directv and just found out I lost A&E, Vice, History and Lifetime. Apparently @DIRECTV  decided that since we don’t watch those channels alot, they took them off our programming even though we are still paying for them. This is the stupidest thing I ever heard,” tweeted ‘James Ewing.’

A DIRECTV spokesman yesterday confirmed to the TV Answer Man that the channels were removed as part of the opt-in program.

“Customers who weren’t watching certain A&E channels may no longer see them in the guide, but these can be added back by visiting .” the spokesman said.

He added that the removal was a “continuation of what began late last year.”

The TV Answer Man has asked DIRECTV if the opt-in program is being used for other channels, but the satcaster has not responded to that inquiry. We have also asked A&E for a comment on the recent removals.

Update: A&E Networks issued this statement on Sunday:

Loyal fans of A&E, The History Channel, Lifetime and Vice can call 1-800-531-5000 or should click on   and ask @DirectTV for their favorite channels back.”

DIRECTV last year also removed the four A&E channels from its base plan for new subscribers, called Entertainment. The channels are still available to new customers in the Choice plan and above.

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— Phillip Swann