AT&T fires back at American Spirit, says broadcasters are doing the blacking out

DirecTV rooftop satellite dish
AT&T says FCC rules grant American Spirit exclusive control over whether its stations remain available on either DirecTV or U-verse.

As it fights retrans battles on multiple fronts, AT&T wants to set the record straight on American Spirit Media’s assertion that the operator was the one who blacked out its seven network affiliates on DirecTV and U-verse.

“We want to get our customers’ usual local stations back into their DirecTV and U-verse lineups as soon as possible,” AT&T said. “Doing so requires permission from each station’s owner, including American Spirit Media., since FCC rules grant American Spirit exclusive control over whether its stations remain available on either DirecTV or U-verse. We share our customers’ frustration because American Spirit is deliberately stopping its stations from reaching their homes until American Spirit receives a significant increase in fees even though the same people can still watch its shows for free over the air and, often, online at each network’s website or using that same network’s mobile app.”

RELATED: AT&T/DirecTV blacked out by 7 more affiliates

American Spirit Media has posted messages on its websites saying DirecTV “dropped” its seven network affiliates last week after the two sides couldn’t come to terms on a new retrans deal. 

“American Spirit has blocked its stations from reaching different providers’ customers before and also threatened to disconnect others,” AT&T said. “We have asked American Spirit repeatedly to allow our customers to watch while we work this business matter out privately, but American Spirit continues to refuse. All American Spirit needs to do is grant its permission, and we can have its stations back into our customers’ homes within moments. Our goal is to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably, and we appreciate our DirecTV and U-verse customers’ patience while we attempt just that.”

News of the American Spirit blackout came after Meredith Corp. threatened to pull its channels off DirecTV and U-verse on Friday if a broadcast retransmission license renewal could not be agreed upon. 

AT&T released some rhetoric, but Meredith channels are still on its program guides. 

Separately, AT&T is dealing with the blackout of two network affiliates in Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio owned by Dispatch Broadcast Group.