By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

Tom Carter, a senior Nexstar advisor, expressed hope yesterday that a deal to end the 10-week carriage dispute with DIRECTV could be in the works. The satcaster, and its two sister services, DIRECTV Stream and U-verse, have been without the 159 Nexstar-owned local stations since July 2 when the old carriage agreement expired. However, in a presentation yesterday before a New York investors conference, Carter said “progress has been made. We’re not going to do a bad deal. But our expectation is that we’re going to reach an agreement at some point, hopefully sooner than later because everyone agrees that it’s not in anyone’s best interest to alienate the consumer.”

Carter, who once served as Nexstar’s chief financial officer, now acts as an advisor to the company’s board of directors and CEO. He acknowledged yesterday that “there wasn’t a lot of movement going on” in the first month after the blackout began. The TV Answer Man has learned that the companies met in DIRECTV’s headquarters in early August to discuss a settlement, but the meeting did not go well. However, Carter’s statement that “progress has been made” should encourage DIRECTV viewers in Nexstar markets who have been without at least one local channel for more than two months.

Of course, that doesn’t mean a deal is imminent and, notably, DIRECTV’s customer service team just yesterday issued a statement saying the TV provider has been the one making progress, not Nexstar. “Since our contract expired, Nexstar has made little progress while we continue to make substantial movement to find a middle-ground with the goal of returning local news and sports to you as quickly as possible at the right value. DIRECTV appreciates your patience,” @DIRECTVHelp said on the company’s X site. (formerly known as Twitter.)

But Carter could have used the financial forum yesterday to bash DIRECTV but chose instead to sound a positive note. That would suggest the rancor between the companies may be cooling, allowing for substantial discussions to sign a new pact. The DIRECTV/Nexstar audience would certainly be happy to see it before this Sunday, the second week of the 2023 NFL season. But Carter did not offer any possible timetables.

Update: A DIRECTV spokesman today told The TV Answer Man that “we remain in discussions and don’t have anything additional to share at this time.”

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— Phillip Swann