As of July 4, DirecTV, AT&T U-verse and AT&T’s subscription-based streaming service DirecTV Now dropped network and local community programming for more than 120 Nexstar-owned TV stations across 97 U.S. markets.
In a release, Nexstar said that DirecTV/AT&T rejected its offer of an unconditional extension of their contract until August 2, to enable continuing negotiations.
The pricing standoff leaves users of those platforms without content from ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CW and MyNetworkTV, as well as local news and other local programming.
Nexstar maintains it offered DirecTV and U-verse the same terms it has with other large MVPDs. It also accused DirecTV of misleading Nexstar into thinking negotiation progress was being made, by asking Nexstar not to inform viewers about the pending contract expiration.
In addition, Nexstar asserted that AT&T is misusing its expanded power as a result of its 2018 acquisition of Time Warner.
“A little more than a year after putting DirecTV together with Time Warner, AT&T appears intent on using its new market power to prioritize its own content at the expense of consumers, and insisting on unreasonable and extreme terms that are totally inconsistent with the market," Nexstar charged. "In January, AT&T raised prices on DirecTV and in April it put through a price increase for its streaming subscription service, DirecTV Now."
AT&T, for its part, issued a statement saying it “had hoped to prevent Nexstar from pulling its stations from our customers’ lineups, and we offered Nexstar more money to keep them available. Nexstar simply said no and elected to remove them instead. Nexstar has chosen to hold our customers hostage and put them into the center of its negotiations.
“This is the same old Nexstar playbook,” AT&T continued. “They pull or threaten to pull their signals from customers of many distributors to increase fees for ‘free TV’ stations that far exceed their value.”
DirecTV asserted Nexstar was demanding “the largest increase AT&T has ever seen proposed by any content provider,” and also wants “much higher payments for stations and a low-rated cable network they don’t own, as well as carriage commitments and still more fees for channels that don’t even exist.”