By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, do you know if DIRECTV and Nexstar are close to ending the blackout of our CBS station? They are being greedy, greedy, greedy. They have billions of dollars and they are keeping our shows away from us for a little more money. Shameful! — Crystal, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Crystal, on July 2, DIRECTV lost 159 Nexstar-owned local stations due to a fight over how much it should pay the broadcaster for its signals. The carriage battle is more complicated than most because DIRECTV is also without roughly 30 Mission Broadcasting and White Knight stations due to a separate fee fight. The satcaster is alleging that Nexstar, which manages the Mission and White Knight stations, pushed them to demand excessive carriage fees which trigged those channel blackouts. (All three carriage battles also affect DIRECTV Stream and U-verse.)

There is no indication that the two sides are close to a settlement. In fact, the gap between DIRECTV and Nexstar is apparently so wide that the two companies couldn’t even pause the dispute to allow DIRECTV to resume broadcasting KHON-TV (Fox) in Honolulu during the ongoing wildfire disaster on the island of Maui which has killed at least 111 people. (KHON-TV’s signal reaches Maui.)

This means that Honolulu/Maui viewers who subscribe to DIRECTV cannot watch the local news reports — and emergency alerts — broadcast by the local Fox station. The satcaster can continue to air KGMB (CBS), KITV (ABC) and KHNL (NBC), but not the Fox station. (DIRECTV is also still without KHII-TV, the Nexstar-owned sister station of KHON-TV in Honolulu. But the My Network station does not do its own newscast.)

During the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, it became commonplace for TV providers and broadcasters to set aside their differences and temporarily allow the provider to air a missing channel because of the overwhelming public interest. For example, Cox and Dish signed a temporary agreement in March 2020 for 18 Cox-owned local stations in 10 markets so Dish subscribers in those areas could watch Coronavirus news updates. But DIRECTV and Nexstar have not done this for the Maui wildfires. (Nexstar has the ultimate decision on whether DIRECTV would be permitted to carry KHON-TV. By law, DIRECTV cannot carry a local station without its owner’s permission. This is why TV providers pay the broadcasters for their signals.)

The TV Answer Man yesterday asked Nexstar for a comment but did not receive a response. When contacted, a DIRECTV spokesman said: “We offer multiple local broadcast stations to keep customers informed including KGMB, KITV, KHNL and are working with Nexstar to return the stations they own and control to our customers at the right value.”

In related news, DIRECTV has announced that it will provide a 100 percent credit to all consumer and business customers for service in the Lahaina zip codes, 96761 and 96767 that began August 8 through October 8. Lahaina is the town where the wildfires originated.

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— Phillip Swann