By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, now that Charter and Spectrum has a deal, what do you think will be the next carriage agreement? DIRECTV and Nexstar? Dish? What does your crystal ball say? — Frank, Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Frank, you’re right. Charter’s Spectrum TV yesterday settled its carriage dispute with Disney, ending an 11-day blackout of ESPN, ABC in seven markets, and other Disney-owned channels. But there are several more carriage fights ongoing including those involving three of the four top TV providers (by subscriber count) in the nation. Which one of those battles will end first? Let’s get the crystal ball out and make a prediction. Here’s the list:

*DIRECTV has been without the 159 Nexstar-owned network affiliates since July 2 due to a carriage dispute between the companies. (The impasse also affects DIRECTV Stream and U-verse.) The satcaster is also without roughly 30 local stations owned by Mission and White Knight, but managed by Nexstar.
* Dish has carriage disputes with four broadcasting companies: Hearst, Cox Media, White Knight and Mission. The Cox Media fight dates back to last November.
* Comcast last Friday joined the growing line of TV providers with carriage disputes by losing two Fox stations owned by Imagicomm Communications. The blackout includes KAYU-TV in Spokane, Washington, and WHBQ-TV in Memphis, Tennessee.

So who settles first? I can’t ever pick Dish in a ‘who settles first’ contest. The nation’s second leading satellite TV service is still run by Charlie Ergen, the industry’s toughest negotiator. He hates to leave money on the table and is unlikely to settle until he’s positive he has the best deal possible. Okay, then how about DIRECTV and Nexstar? The last time they fought (in 2019), they settled after seven weeks, right before the NFL season. That didn’t happen this time, an indication that their differences (which includes a lawsuit and FCC complaints) will likely take months to resolve. If then.

No, if I had to bet here, I would pick Comcast to be the first TV provider to settle. Hey, we’re talking about two Fox stations so it shouldn’t be that difficult for the companies to come together. Right?

Frank, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann