Local channels KARK, KARZ and KNWA have gone dark in a dispute with AT&T and DirecTV. More than 100 TV stations operated by Nexstar Media Group, which operates KARK, KARZ and KNWA, have been affected by the blackout.
On July 3, the Nexstar’s contract with AT&T, which owns DirecTV and AT&T U-Verse, expired. The two companies reportedly could not reach an agreement for a contract renewal. Both Nexstar and AT&T are blaming the other side for the breakdown in contract talks.
Nexstar claims it offered an “unconditional extension” of its existing distribution agreement until August 2 to come to a new agreement. AT&T, according to Nexstar’s account, declined to renew.
“Nexstar has been negotiating in good faith to establish a mutually agreeable contract with DIRECTV. Significantly, Nexstar has offered DIRECTV the same rates it offered to other large distribution partners with whom it completed successful negotiations with in 2019 to date,” Nexstar said in a statement.
In its statement, Nexstar pointed to AT&T’s past blackouts of local TV programming to support its claims that AT&T was using blackouts to refuse fair market rates.
“Between May 30, 2019 and June 10, 2019 alone, viewers of at least 20 other non-Nexstar stations (owned by Deerfield Media, GoCom Media of Illinois, Howard Stirk Holdings, Mercury Broadcast Group, MPS Media, Nashville License Holdings, Roberts Media, Second Generation of Iowa and Waitt Broadcasting) lost access to network and local content as a result AT&T/DIRECTV’s refusal to accept fair market rates for the distribution of leading non-AT&T programming,” Nexstar said.
AT&T responded with its own press release, claiming that it offered Nexstar more money for its programming and that Nexstar refused.
“Nexstar has removed its channels from your lineup even though we offered Nexstar more money to keep them available to you. Nexstar simply said no and elected to remove them from your lineups instead, putting you in the middle of its negotiations,” AT&T said in a statement.
In a section of its press release called “The Nexstar playbook,” AT&T claims that Nexstar has a history of pulling stations in order to increase its fees. “Nexstar pulls or threatens to pull their stations from the customers of TV providers to increase fees for stations far beyond their value. They’ve done it to Cox Cable, DISH, and Charter Spectrum, and now they’re doing it to us,” AT&T said.
Nexstar Media Group operates 174 television stations throughout the United States. According to the Nexstar website, the company has a reach of 38.7 percent of U.S. households.