By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, we have not had our ABC channel on DIRECTV for months. Customer service says it has something to do with Nexstar but I thought the Nexstar fight was over. Can you explain? — Neal, Burlington, Vermont.
Neal, DIRECTV a week ago settled a 76-day carriage dispute with Nexstar, allowing the TV provider to return 176 Nexstar-owned network affiliates to DIRECTV’s satellite service, DIRECTV Stream and U-verse. However, despite the settlement, the fight between DIRECTV and Nexstar is continuing. How can that be? Let me explain.
DIRECTV has been without roughly 30 local stations owned by Mission Broadcasting and White Knight since last October due to separate carriage disputes. Since the stations are managed by Nexstar, many viewers in those markets hoped that DIRECTV’s deal to resume carrying Nexstar’s owned stations would also include the Mission and White Knight network affiliates. But thus far, that is not the case. And DIRECTV is blaming Nexstar for the continued blackout of the Mission and White Knight stations. “Nexstar controls Mission and White Knight, but by law, those station groups require separate renewals. We regret this inconvenience, but please know we are continuing to use the courts, FCC, and other avenues to try to resolve this,” the satcaster’s X customer service team is telling customers when asked about the Mission/White Knight blackouts.
The satcaster last 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. DIRECTV charged in the lawsuit 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. You might think that the DIRECTV-Nexstar carriage settlement would have resolved this fight as well but that’s apparently not the case.
The DIRECTV lawsuit strikes at a recurring complaint from pay TV operators that local broadcasters are demanding excessive fees to carry their signals. The escalating fees, the pay TV services say, force them to raise their customer’s monthly bills, causing many subscribers to cut the cord. “DIRECTV today took a stand for its customers by mounting a legal challenge against a conspiracy among three broadcasters to illegally increase content costs for free over-the-air TV,” the company stated in a press release last March.
However, the Mission and White Knight viewers are caught in the middle of this fight and it’s unclear today when or if they will get their channels back.
Neal, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann