By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, we lost our Fox station here because of DIRECTV’s fight with the Nexstar company. I don’t understand why DIRECTV doesn’t give us another Fox station to replace it. We could do without the local news and all. We just want the sports and primetime stuff from Fox. Why can’t they do that? — Marcia, Providence.

Marcia, DIRECTV on Sunday night lost 159 Nexstar-owned network affiliates including your local Fox station in Providence due to a carriage dispute between the companies. (The blackout also affects DIRECTV Stream and U-verse.)

Nexstar 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.

Over the years when there’s a fee fight between a TV provider and a network affiliate, readers will often ask me why the provider doesn’t replace the station with another one. In this case, why doesn’t DIRECTV just beam in a different Fox affiliate to replace the Nexstar-owned WNAC in Providence that has been blacked out? The satcaster carries other Fox stations around the country so just use one of them, right?

Well, DIRECTV would love to be able to do that. But the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has two rules called ‘network nonduplication’ and ‘syndication exclusivity’ that are designed to protect the local TV market from being replaced by an out-of-market signal. The rules prevent a pay TV provider, such as DIRECTV, to substitute programming in one market by using a signal from an out-of-market source.

The agency is attempting to preserve the economic viability of local TV stations so they will be around indefinitely to provide important news and weather information. That’s a good thing. But as we pointed out on Monday in this article, the rule has also allowed local stations to force pay TV providers to pay enormous sums for their signals, which in turn has led to higher monthly prices for pay TV subscribers. If the providers could pick and choose which network affiliates to offer, the local stations wouldn’t have the leverage they do in carriage negotiations.

Marcia, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann