As 2016 became 2017 and deadlines arrived in retransmission consent negotiations, Hearst Television stations in 28 markets — a total of about 33 stations — went dark on DirecTV systems just after midnight on Jan. 1, as did about 14 Cox Media stations in 10 markets.
The disruption affects customers of both DirecTV and AT&T U-verse.
Multichannel.com notes that Hearst had been warning viewers about the possibility of a service disruption since late December. Hearst released a statement on its station websites, noting that is has successfully renegotiated contracts in the past with no service interruptions.
In a statement, WLKY President and General Manager Glenn Haygood said: “Unfortunately, the DirecTV negotiating team is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable given the significant investments we have made to deliver top tier programming to our viewers. We regret the inconvenience DirecTV’s demands have imposed on its subscribers, and we will keep you fully informed of developments.”
Multichannel notes that the affected Hearst markets include Boston (ABC affiliate WCVB); Pittsburgh (ABC affiliate WTAE); New Orleans (NBC affiliate WDSU); Baltimore (NBC affiliate WBAL); Louisville, Ky. (CBS affiliate WLKY); and Orlando, Fla. (NBC affiliate WESH).
“DirecTV also lost access to about 14 Cox Media properties in 10 markets, including Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Seattle; and Tulsa, Okla., on Jan.1 after its carriage deal expired,” the report notes.
Cox Media EVP of Television Jane Williams said in a statement: “Negotiations continue, and we expect this disruption to be brief considering that every other pay-TV provider has come to reasonable terms with CMG. We have made ourselves available twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week to get this deal done.”