Starting at 8:00 pm on November 30, AT&T’s DirecTV and U-Verse could lose Tegna-owned local stations. A scrolling on-screen notice showed up today for viewers who could be affected.
Just like the dispute that we reported on yesterday that could cause Dish to lose Nexstar-owned local channels in the largest TV blackout in history, this looks like another case of a station owner asking for higher rates and a TV provider refusing the price hike.
On its website, AT&T says “As many station owners like TEGNA keep losing viewers and sponsors, they’ve resorted to blacking out popular local teams or any remaining hit shows at the worst possible time in order to extract unwarranted increases over their already high fees despite their fading popularity, leaving consumers to foot the bill.”
Disputes like this are becoming more common and in many cases, agreements are renewed without causing interruptions to viewers. AT&T points out that Tegna has, in the past, pulled stations for just a few days or even just a few hours before returning. “It’s shameless profiteering at the public expense and worse during a global pandemic when medical news is at a premium and regular folks are struggling to make ends meet,” AT&T says in a notice to customers.