CBS says AT&T might shut down U-verse after DirecTV merger

With talks for a wide-ranging carriage renewal deal with AT&T (NYSE: T) bogging down, CBS Corp. executives are wondering if the wireless giant plans to keep its U-verse pay-TV operation in business after its $49 billion merger with DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) finally closes.

The Wall Street Journal quotes unnamed CBS executives as saying that AT&T appears "disinterested" in renewing a carriage agreement that expires June 30.

They question whether AT&T is reluctant to enter any long-term agreements for U-verse TV, and plans to shift its subscribers over to DirecTV after close of the merger. 

Responding to WSJ, AT&T executives said CBS's concerns amount to nothing more than posturing in a complicated licensing negotiation. 

In May 2014, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told analysts he didn't see DirecTV "displacing our fiber-fed video product in our U-Verse footprint."

AT&T and CBS are negotiating not only for retransmission renewal for CBS broadcast network, but also cable platforms including Showtime and CBS Sports.

In March, AT&T requested an extension from CBS of the current contract beyond June 30, one CBS said it denied. Talks hit another hiccup in April when Aaron Slater, president of content and ad sales for AT&T, was fired amid a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against him by a colleague. 

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal story (via Dow Jones Newswire)

Related articles:
Report: AT&T may agree to follow new net neutrality rules to close DirecTV purchase
AT&T, DirecTV push back against merger conditions, as FCC shot clock remains stopped
AT&T-DirecTV deal nears closure, still A-OK with regulators

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