Viewers across the country have expressed their outrage at DIRECTV after its removal of scores of local Nexstar Broadcasting television stations which began on the Fourth of July. For example, as a result of DIRECTV’s actions, DIRECTV subscribers in Bakersfield, California were unable to receive local Nexstar televised news updates on the large earthquake there.
Hawaii is bracing for severe weather as Hurricane Barbara tracks across the Pacific. Nexstar’s KHON, in Honolulu, is providing constant updates on weather models and local conditions. DIRECTV serves the majority of the TV households on the Big Island where the storm is expected to be the worst and viewers need KHON for important weather and safety updates. Similarly, a Louisiana viewer of Nexstar’s local station there is highly concerned with the DIRECTV blackout: “We in Louisiana are in the middle of hurricane season – WE NEED OUR LOCAL STATION! We pay enough money to have this service – BRING OUR LOCAL STATION BACK!”
Wednesday alone viewers were denied access to over 530 hours of local news. Viewers are also complaining about missing their favorite network shows, the annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks event and more than twenty home-town Fourth of July events that Nexstar stations produced specifically for their local markets.
Nexstar has been negotiating in good faith to establish a mutually agreeable contract with DIRECTV and has offered DIRECTV the same rates it offered to other large distribution partners it completed successful negotiations with this year. Over the past 20 months alone, Nexstar has successfully renewed more than 390 distribution agreements with cable providers. Nexstar would like to continue to try to reach a fair agreement with DIRECTV and allow its viewers to receive their local stations again.
DIRECTV is routinely involved in disputes with content providers. Since 2015 DIRECTV has dropped or threatened to black out network and local community programming from Viacom, SJL Broadcasting/Lilly Broadcasting, and others. Between May 30 and June 10, 2019 alone, viewers of at least 20 other non-Nexstar stations (owned by Deerfield Media, GoCom Media of Illinois, Howard Stirk Holdings, Mercury Broadcast Group, MPS Media, Nashville License Holdings, Roberts Media, Second Generation of Iowa and Waitt Broadcasting) lost access to network and local content.
Unfortunately, DIRECTV did not accept Nexstar’s offer for an extension which would have allowed viewers in the affected markets to view their favorite network shows, special events, sports, local news and other programming on the Fourth of July and until such time as a new agreement can be reached. Contrary to DIRECTV’s public statements, Nexstar in no way pulled its stations or asked for their removal from DIRECTV’s platforms. Nexstar is also reiterating its offer of an unconditional extension of the existing distribution agreement for 30 days to restore the blacked-out programming to viewers and allow the parties to reach a new agreement.
Consumers and viewers affected by DIRECTV’s blackout can contact DIRECTV directly at 208 South Akard Street, Dallas, TX 75202 and by phone at 855-567-1569 or 210-821-4105.