Some DirecTV and AT&T U-verse customers could soon lose access to their local CBS stations.
At 2 a.m. EDT Saturday, the current contract between AT&T and CBS is set to expire, meaning some CBS-owned stations could go black.
Both companies are warning customers of the possible outage and placing blame with the other.
“CBS would like to avoid being dropped, but unless an agreement is reached, our viewers should be prepared for DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse TV to remove CBS-owned television stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Tampa, Seattle, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore,” the CBS statement said. “DIRECTV NOW customers nationwide would lose the CBS Television Network’s hit programming as well.”
AT&T, the largest pay TV provider in the U.S., with 24.5 million subscribers, said in its statement that it is “fighting on behalf of our customers in these negotiations with broadcast station owners and national networks.”
AT&T DirecTV and Nexstar dispute: Nexstar channels on DirecTV, U-verse dark since late July 3
Some AT&T customers lost access to Nexstar stations in 97 markets at 11:59 p.m. local time July 3. The stations, which include ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliate stations, are still dark.
“We must convince companies like CBS and Nexstar to accept the same call to action that our own TV customers have made clear,” AT&T’s statement said. “Make no mistake. We want the CBS owned-and-operated and Nexstar local stations in our lineups, and their multimillion dollar misinformation campaigns are a waste of everyone’s time, patience and frayed loyalties.”
CBS has made a website at www.keepcbs.com about the possible outage and is urging customers to “take action” by contacting AT&T. The outage also could affect some CBS-owned The CW television stations.
Not every CBS or CW station is at risk for being blacked out for AT&T customers.
Disputes between content providers and cable and satellite providers are common as companies try to negotiate new deals.
Sometimes the negotiations are extended to allow the parties to reach an agreement. In many situations, the stations don’t go black.
While both parties say they are looking for a resolution, there have been an increase in blackouts.
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“This year, broadcasters have caused more than 200 blackouts industry-wide, which is on a record one-year pace,” AT&T said. “That’s already a more than 20 percent jump over the 165 in 2018.”
CBS says it has “reached timely, fair agreements with hundreds of other cable, satellite, telco and internet providers to carry our industry-leading, fan-favorite programming. AT&T, however, continues to propose unfair terms well below those agreed to by its competitors and may drop CBS unless we agree to those terms.”
How to watch your shows
If the channels are blacked out, AT&T says customers in several of the markets can use Locast, a not-for-profit service offering users access to broadcast television stations over the internet.
“We are dedicated to helping our customers with new innovative ways to access this same content, including a new product called Local Channel Connector that puts local signals into program guides of our DIRECTV customers with Genie receivers, or adding the new Locast app into all of our Genie and U-verse Internet-connected receivers so customers can stream their local stations,” AT&T said in its statement.
Many shows can also be viewed over the air or online at the network websites.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko