DirecTV, Dish hit with massive channel blackouts

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DirecTV and Dish Network, the U.S.’s two major satellite TV providers, are both experiencing massive channel blackouts as distribution talks with broadcasters break down.

AT&T’s linear video services – DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV – couldn’t reach a new agreement with Tegna and on Tuesday more than 60 local broadcast channels went dark for the company’s pay TV customers. AT&T accused Tegna of demanding the “largest rate increase we have ever seen.”

“We challenge Tegna to return its local stations immediately while we finalize a new agreement and pledge to pay Tegna retroactively whatever higher rates to which we eventually agree. We share our customers’ frustration, appreciate their patience and intend to do all we can to resolve this matter soon,” the company said in a statement.

RELATED: Dish, Nexstar fight threatens to black out 164 local channels

Tegna said its “non-substitutable programming” is a primary reason why consumers continue to subscribe to pay TV bundles. "That value is reflected in the hundreds of agreements we have negotiated over the past years with cable, satellite, telco and (streaming) providers nationwide."

At the same time, the deadline passed for a new distribution agreement between Dish and Nexstar and resulted in 164 local broadcast channels going dark on the satellite service.

Nexstar called out Dish for what it said is a pattern of bad behavior in negotiations.

“Viewers across the United States have expressed their outrage at Dish Network for its documented long-term practice of putting its paying subscribers in the middle, rather than reaching agreements with broadcasters and content providers at fair market rates. In 2020 alone, Dish has dropped network or local community programming offered by The E.W. Scripps Company, Apollo, Mission Broadcasting, the NFL Network, and 21 regional sports networks,” said Nexstar in a statement.

Dish said that it made a “fair offer” to Nexstar but that the company rejected it.

"Earlier today, we offered to extend the current contract and hold subscribers harmless while negotiations continue — once at 11:53am MST and again at 3:11pm MST — but Nexstar never responded. We don't understand why Nexstar insists on prioritizing greed above American viewers, many of whom rely on local programming for their news and entertainment, especially during this global pandemic,” said Brian Neylon, group president at Dish TV, in a statement.