By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

Nexstar, which owns 164 local stations and WGN and NewsNation, is warning tonight that DIRECTV, DIRECTV Stream and U-verse could lose their signals in a carriage dispute. The company’s viewer alert, posted at station web sites, does not say when the signals could be removed other than it could be “soon.”

Update: The Nexstar blackout on DIRECTV has begun.

“Our station has a contract with DIRECT/UVERSE that allows them to deliver our programming to you. That contract could soon expire and DIRECT/UVERSE might remove our station from your schedule. We have presented a proposal for fair value compensation, based on the importance and value our programming brings to our viewers. Despite our tireless efforts, DIRECTV/UVERSE has refused our fair offer and doesn’t seem to care if you must go without,” the Nexstar alert states.

DIRECTV has not commented on the Nexstar warning as of 7:00 p.m. ET. Update: DIRECTV issued this statement tonight:

“Nexstar, the nation’s largest broadcaster, is demanding to more than double the amount it charges our customers to access approximately 200 local stations it owns or controls in more than 100 metro areas that serve 68% of U.S. TV households. Unfortunately, Nexstar has a long track record of demanding significantly higher fees from all pay TV operators and often forces providers to stop carrying their channels during negotiations. DIRECTV will take the necessary actions to provide our customers access to their favorite programming while protecting them from unwarranted price increases.” 

The dispute is a continuation of bad blood between the two companies. DIRECTV in March sued Nexstar, Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting, alleging the three companies have violated anti-trust law in a scheme to pump up carriage fees for local network affiliates.

The satcaster, and its sister services, U-verse and DIRECTV Stream, have been without Mission’s 26 local stations and White Knight’s three stations since October due to separate carriage disputes. However, DIRECTV has maintained that Nexstar, which serves as the operating business for both station groups, has pulled the strings behind the scenes of the negotiations and forced the two companies to seek higher fees.

Nexstar has said the lawsuit is an attempt to gain leverage in renewal talks for its local stations.

Nexstar has local stations in such large markets as Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Denver. The broadcaster’s web site says its local stations reach 115 markets representing 63 percent of all U.S. TV households. To see a list of the Nexstar stations, click here.

The TV Answer Man will update this story if we receive additional statements or information regarding the dispute.

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— Phillip Swann