TV Answer Man, is there anything new with DIRECTV and Mission? We have been without our Fox station here for several months now? Are they even talking? Do we know if they are close Is it time to switch to another TV provider? — Marlene, Providence. 

Marlene, DIRECTV on October 21 lost a few dozen local TV stations due to a carriage dispute with their owner, Mission Broadcasting. (The blackout also affects DIRECTV Stream and U-verse.) The stations, which are managed by Nexstar, are in 25 markets including New York. Providence, Rhode Island, Little Rock, Albuquerque, Abilene, Texas, Albany, New York and Erie, Pennsylvania, among others. You can see a complete list here.

The satellite TV service is involved in a separate carriage dispute with White Knight Broadcasting, which pulled three stations in Texas and Louisiana off DIRECTV in early October when the companies could not reach a new pact. (The three stations are also operated by Nexstar.)

Since the fee fights began, there have been occasional statements from each party blaming the other for the blackouts. The Mission and White Knight station web sites continue to post alerts at their web sites saying that DIRECTV subscribers can’t watch them while the satcaster has a similar notice at its DIRECTV Promise web site.

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However, we don’t know if the companies are close to an agreement, or even if they are talking. DIRECTV and the two broadcasters do not publicize anything regarding their negotiations, which is standard operating procedure in these disputes.

This is particularly frustrating for DIRECTV subscribers in the affected markets. They can’t make an informed decision on whether to cancel DIRECTV (if that’s their inclination) because they don’t have any indication the blackout will end today or six months from today.

The only thing I can say is that the disputes have now lasted longer than two months, which is somewhat unusual for a local channel fight. This would suggest they could go significantly longer. There’s something going on here that is preventing the companies from finding common ground. The fact that Nexstar manages all stations involved could be a factor. Nexstar has proven to be a tough negotiator in carriage fights.

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The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor these battles and report back here if anything changes. Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann