By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, do you know which stations could go off DIRECTV in the Nexstar thing? I live in the LA area. Will we lose any of our stations? — Peter, Santa Monica, California. 

Peter, Nexstar last night posted a viewer alert on the web sites of its local stations that says DIRECTV, DIRECTV Stream and U-verse could lose their signals if the two sides don’t reach a new carriage agreement. When? The broadcaster doesn’t give a specific date, but says the deadline is “soon.”

Update: The Nexstar blackout on DIRECTV has begun.

DIRECTV responded that Nexstar is demanding a carriage fee increase “more than double the amount it (currently) charges our customers.”

The dispute is more complicated than most fee fights. 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.

After last night’s viewer alert was posted, DIRECTV filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, asking the agency to find that Nexstar is illegally controlling the Mission and White Knight stations.

The two companies also had a carriage battle in 2019, triggering a 7-week blackout. Considering the history here, it seems likely that this scrap will result in a blackout as well. The ‘when’ seems to be a bigger mystery than the if.

We know that the last DIRECTV-Nexstar carriage battle was settled on August 29, 2019, but it began on July 3, 2019. With Nexstar issuing the alert now, it’s possible the current agreement was set to begin around July 3 rather than August 29. If that’s the case, the blackout could begin early next week.

Will your station be affected?

Nexstar owns and/or operates more than 200 local stations, but this dispute only affects the stations that the broadcaster owns, which is 164. (Some Nexstar-operated stations, such as those owned by White Knight and Mission, are already blacked out on DIRECTV due to separate carriage disputes.)

The Nexstar-owned stations are in such large markets as Los Angeles (KTLA), Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Denver.  To see a list of the Nexstar stations, click here.

The broadcaster also owns NewsNation and WGN, both of which could be lost in a DIRECTV blackout.

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— Phillip Swann