By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
DIRECTV on Monday sent a letter to the FCC that reiterates its call for the agency to investigate whether Nexstar is controlling both the public relations and carriage decisions of Mission Broadcasting and White Knight in their blackout battles with the satcaster. Now Nexstar has returned fire, saying DIRECTV should “stop making frivolous filings and focus on restoring the service it has denied to its customers.”

DIRECTV has been without 159 Nexstar-owned local stations since July 2 due to a fight over fees and it’s been missing roughly 30 Nexstar-managed but not owned White Knight and Mission local stations since October. The TV provider charges Nexstar is pulling the carriage strings in all three disputes and is attempting to force higher rates on all pay TV services. However, in a statement issued yesterday, Nexstar says DIRECTV is refusing to negotiate fairly and is using the “impasse it created to pursue its broader regulatory agenda.”

“DIRECTV has a history of this behavior,” Nexstar says. “Since 2019 it has dropped more than 150 channels or networks from its systems for various lengths of time.  In total, these drops have resulted in more than an entire year’s worth of programming being lost to viewers.”

Both Nexstar and DIRECTV have been involved in several carriage disputes over the last three years. But Nexstar says the satcaster is “now attempting to use this self-created crisis to advance its longstanding regulatory efforts to undermine local broadcasters like Nexstar. DIRECTV’s arguments are baseless and self-serving, and its abusive filings should be ignored.  DIRECTV should stop making frivolous filings and focus on restoring the service it has denied to its customers.”

The war of words indicates that the companies are still far apart in settlement negotiations with the start of the college football season just a few days away, and the NFL season starting two weeks from today. The blackout also affects DIRECTV Stream and U-verse.

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— Phillip Swann