By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

DIRECTV has charged in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission that Nexstar has forced 21 Sinclair-owned CW affiliates to deny their signals to DIRECTV Stream as part of an ongoing carriage dispute between Nexstar and DIRECTV.

“Last week, it expanded this blackout to include CW network programming on Sinclair owned and managed local stations on DIRECTV’s streaming service,” the letter says. “It has, in other words, dragged into its dispute new viewers of a competing broadcaster against their will and regardless of DIRECTV’s agreements to serve these viewers.”

Nexstar, a majority owner of The CW, issued a statement saying the allegation is “without merit.” However, DIRECTV says it was forced to remove the CW signals from DIRECTV Stream on July 12. You can see a list of Sinclair-owned CW stations here.

DIRECTV on July 2 lost 159 Nexstar-owned local stations when the two companies could not reach a new carriage agreement. The impasse includes network affiliates for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW.

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 blackout could be a lengthy one because of the long-term feud between the 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.

DIRECTV this week also won a lawsuit against Nexstar over excessive carriage fees paid eight years ago to carry a CW affiliate.

The satcaster’s letter to the FCC reflects the deep animosity between the two companies.

“This behavior reveals what is truly motivating affiliates’ calls for regulation of online  providers,” the letter states.  “It is not local news; it is their economic position. Broadcast affiliates, including Nexstar, have complained that networks control negotiations with online providers to the detriment of local stations, especially local news. Now that it owns a network, however, Nexstar has done just that—required another broadcaster to black out programming on its local stations notwithstanding agreements that other broadcasters had negotiated. Nexstar’s conduct shows that affiliates’ attempt to regulate online providers has never really been about “preserving local broadcasting” or anything else of the sort. Affiliates simply want the government to give them leverage against the networks.”

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— Phillip Swann