AT&T/DIRECTV BLACKS OUT LOCAL TV STATIONS IN 97 MARKETS ACROSS THE USA ON JULY 4th AFTER REJECTING NEXSTAR OFFERS TO EXTEND ACCESS FOR CONSUMERS TO LEADING LOCAL CONTENT
CONNECTICUT SENATOR BLUMENTHAL CALLS ON DIRECTV AND AT&T U-VERSE TO ACCEPT NEXSTAR’S EXTENSION OFFER TO IMMEDIATELY RESTORE CARRIAGE OF NETWORK AND LOCAL COMMUNITY PROGRAMMING
IRVING, Texas, July 8, 2019 – Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal has issued a letter urging direct broadcast satellite service provider DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse to immediately restore carriage of Nexstar-owned WTNH-TV (ABC) and WCTX-TV (MyNetworkTV). Effective 11:59 p.m. CT on July 3, 2019, AT&T/DIRECTV dropped the network and local community programming for Nexstar-owned stations impacting viewers in 97 markets across the country. The action follows AT&T/DIRECTV’s refusal to accept Nexstar’s offer for an extension which would have allowed viewers in Hartford-New Haven as well as other affected markets to view their favorite network shows, special events, sports, local news and other programming while the parties continue to negotiate.
In the letter dated July 5, Senator Blumenthal acknowledges that local consumers “value Connecticut-based journalism and broadcasting” and strongly urges AT&T/DIRECTV to “immediately provide carriage of WTNH and WCTX through at least August 2, 2019 as requested by Nexstar” which would provide both parties time to come to an agreement “without barring AT&T/DirecTV consumers from viewing their local news coverage.”
Nexstar continues to negotiate in good faith to establish a mutually agreeable contract with AT&T/DIRECTV and has offered AT&T/DIRECTV the same rates it offered to other large distribution partners with whom it completed successful negotiations with in 2019 to date. Contrary to AT&T’s public statements, Nexstar in no way pulled its stations or asked for their removal from AT&T/DIRECTV’s DIRECTV, U-verse or DIRECTV NOW platforms. In the time leading up to the expiration of the agreement, Nexstar not only offered an extension until August 2, but also offered AT&T/DIRECTV its availability to meet in-person to avoid any disruption in service to its customers and our viewers. Nexstar once again reiterated its offer of an extension on July 4, when AT&T/DIRECTV unilaterally dropped the network and local community programming, and on July 5, following the receipt of Senator Blumenthal’s letter.
Nexstar has yet to receive a response from AT&T/DIRECTV regarding its extension offer. As Senator Blumenthal notes, “This cutoff seems to have the sole purpose of enhancing DirecTV bargaining leverage – with severe harm to Connecticut consumers.”
AT&T/DIRECTV is routinely involved in disputes with content providers and following its 2015 acquisition by AT&T, DIRECTV has dropped or threatened to black out network and local community programming from Viacom, SJL Broadcasting/Lilly Broadcasting, and others. 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.
Over the past 20 months alone, Nexstar has successfully renewed more than 390 distribution agreements with cable providers for the carriage of Nexstar’s stations. Nexstar will continue to try to reach a fair agreement with AT&T/DIRECTV and allow its viewers to receive their local stations again. Nexstar agrees with Senator Blumenthal that the public interest is best served by restoring carriage of Nexstar-owned stations to local viewers as soon as possible. As a result, Nexstar is once again reiterating its offer of an unconditional extension of the existing distribution agreement for 30 days to restore the blacked-out programming to viewers and allow the parties to reach a new agreement.
Consumers and viewers affected by AT&T/DIRECTV’s blackout can contact AT&T/DIRECTV directly at 208 South Akard Street, Dallas, TX 75202 and by phone at 855-567-1569 or 210-821-4105.
A full copy of Senator Blumenthal’s letter is available here: Senator Blumenthal Letter July 2019.
About Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc.
Nexstar Broadcasting Group is a leading diversified media company that leverages localism to bring new services and value to consumers and advertisers through its traditional media, digital and mobile media platforms. Nexstar owns, operates, programs or provides sales and other services to 174 full power television stations and related digital multicast signals reaching 100 markets or nearly 39% of all U.S. television households. Nexstar’s portfolio includes primary affiliates of NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, MyNetworkTV and The CW. Nexstar’s community portal websites offer additional hyper-local content and verticals for consumers and advertisers, allowing audiences to choose where, when and how they access content while creating new revenue opportunities
This communication includes forward-looking statements. We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations and projections about future events. Forward-looking statements include information preceded by, followed by, or that includes the words “guidance,” “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “could,” or similar expressions. For these statements, Nexstar claims the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The forward-looking statements contained in thiscommunication, concerning, among other things, future financial performance, including changes in net revenue, cash flow and operating expenses, involve risks and uncertainties, and are subject to change based on various important factors, including the impact of changes in national and regional economies, the ability to service and refinance our outstanding debt, successful integration of acquired television stations and digital businesses (including achievement of synergies and cost reductions), pricing fluctuations in local and national advertising, future regulatory actions and conditions in the television stations’ operating areas, competition from others in the broadcast television markets, volatility in programming costs, the effects of governmental regulation of broadcasting, industry consolidation, technological developments and major world news events. Nexstar undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking events discussed in this communication might not occur. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this release. For more details on factors that could affect these expectations, please see Nexstar’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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