CBS and AT&T were unable to reach a new carriage agreement, and on late Saturday CBS channels went dark DirecTV and U-verse services, a blackout CBS warned could “last a long time.”
CBS-owned television stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Tampa, Seattle, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore went dark on DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-verse. In addition, 117 CBS stations and affiliates went dark on DirecTV Now. Also, CBS Sports Network has been dropped nationally from DirecTV and DirecTV Now, and the Smithsonian Channel has been removed from DirecTV.
CBS said that it had already granted one extension to its current deal with AT&T, and offered another extension this past Friday to AT&T but said the pay TV provider declined the additional extension.
“This is just the latest example in AT&T’s long and clear track record of letting its consumers pay the price for its aggressive tactics to get programmers to accept below market terms,” CBS said in a statement.
AT&T countered with a statement of its own, saying it was “willing to continue to negotiate and also offered to pay CBS an unprecedented rate increase.” The company said that CBS has been boasting about increased revenues while raising retransmission and affiliate fee rates.
“CBS has hit cable and satellite TV providers and local station affiliates with $1.6 billion in fees the past year. These fees are expected to soar nearly 60 percent to $2.5 billion in the next 18 months,” AT&T said.
AT&T has been sharing alternative means of watching CBS with its subscribers, and one of the more prominent suggestions is Locast, a free streaming service for over-the-air broadcast channels.
Earlier this year AT&T invested $500,000 into Locast, and also integrated the service’s app onto its pay TV platforms, including DirecTV and U-verse. In a news release, AT&T said that the donation is meant to support Locast’s “mission to make free broadcast content available to consumers and offer them more choice.”