DirecTV Sues Nexstar Media Group For Antitrust Issues Over Retransmission Fees

Following a number of contentious issues between legacy pay TV providers and TV stations, DirecTV has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Nexstar Media Group, saying it violated federal antitrust law by engaging with Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting to “manipulate, raise and fix prices” of retransmission consent fees.

DirecTV says that in the last 17 years, pay-TV distributor fees to stations have soared “more than 5,000%..." and that this is "the single largest source of rising costs facing video consumers today.”

DirecTV adds that: “To accomplish this unlawful and anticompetitive aim, Mission and White Knight have entered into an agreement in which they have effectively relinquished decision-making authority to Nexstar.”



In response, Gary Weitman, executive vice president and chief communications officer of Nexstar Media Group, told Television News Daily: “Nexstar’s shared services agreements with White Knight and Mission Broadcasting are in full compliance with FCC rules, and each station group independently negotiates its own retransmission consent agreements with its cable, satellite, and telco partners.  This lawsuit is without merit and Nexstar looks forward to prevailing in court.” 

This news follows several carriage and contract issues that major TV station groups and pay TV providers have faced.

Recently, Sinclair Broadcast Group -- the largest owner of ABC affiliates -- stopped 30 of its ABC affiliate stations from being carried on Walt Disney-owned virtual pay TV provider Hulu, calling the deal inadequate. The proposed deal was being negotiated by the affiliate's network, ABC -- another Disney business.

Before that, owners of 150 CBS affiliates initially rejected a carriage deal made by its network -- CBS -- for carriage on virtual pay TV provider FuboTV, calling the deal unacceptable.

This was followed by a new carriage proposal, which the CBS affiliate board endorsed. The agreement returns all affiliated stations to streaming platforms including Paramount+, Hulu +Live TV and YouTube TV streaming platforms --- all of which are carried by FuboTV.

For a short period, while the TV stations were not carried on the service, CBS provided FuboTV a national TV feed.

TV stations in both instances have the option to make carriage deals without the involvement of their networks. Analysts guess TV networks were willing to take lower retransmission deals for their affiliates -- to gain benefits in other areas.

Says Wells Fargo media analyst Steven Cahall: “it seems logical to wonder if Paramount was willing to take lower CBS station retrans step-ups, but achieved improved terms on other networks.“

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