Raycom ratcheted up the rhetoric in its feud with AT&T U-verse, accusing AT&T of using a blackout strategically, leaving Raycom Media stations in 23 markets blacked out.
Raycom released a statement saying: “AT&T U-Verse has not restored Raycom Media stations to their lineup in 23 local markets. The stations were dropped from local service as of 11:59pm Eastern Time on March 15, 2017. This disruption of service with Raycom Media represents the fifth time that AT&T U-Verse has had a disruption of service with broadcasters since their merger with DirecTV. Prior to the AT&T merger with DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse had no signal disruptions during retransmission negotiations.”
The statement adds: “AT&T U-Verse, now combined with DirecTV, appears to be using programming disruptions as an opportunity to switch AT&T U-Verse customers to its DirecTV service. When disgruntled AT&T U-Verse subscribers call to lodge a complaint, they are offered a subscription with DirecTV, the very same company as AT&T. In some instances, subscribers are also pushed to DIRECTV NOW, a service that in many markets does not carry any local broadcast affiliates: a zero-sum game for subscribers.”
In the statement, Pat LaPlatney, Raycom Media President and CEO, says: “Maintaining our connection to our local communities is always the goal in our negotiations. Raycom Media offered 3 extensions through this negotiation process in an effort to continue our negotiations without affecting our viewers on the AT&T U-Verse system. In the last 3 years, Raycom Media has successfully negotiated retransmission consent agreements with 99.5% of operators without an interruption in service. It’s difficult to negotiate an agreement if that is not part of the AT&T U-Verse business plan.”
AT&T responded with a statement saying: “Raycom Media determines whether or not its stations remain in our U-verse customers’ lineups. We have asked Raycom numerous times to leave their stations up, and once they took them down, to put them back up. We have offered to compensate Raycom — even when out of contract — for events like the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament where a program of key interest is at risk. Our challenge to Raycom stands — put your local stations back on and we will compensate you while we work privately to settle this issue. It’s also important for our customers to know that — other than Raycom — we have no other blackouts across the 21 states U-verse serves.”