Dish Network and DirecTV face massive programming blackouts



Jahlil Rush

DirecTV and Dish Network, two major satellite television providers in the United States, are both dealing with massive channel blackouts. This came as distribution talks among broadcasters broke down. AT&T, the parent company to DirecTV, placed the blame solely on Tegna Inc, as a monetary disagreement between the two companies caused more than 60 local broadcast channels to go dark.

“In the midst of an ongoing pandemic, TEGNA is demanding the largest rate increase we have ever seen, and intentionally blacking out its most loyal viewers,” AT&T’s statement to USA Today said. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price tweeted out frustration over not being able to watch Sunday night football due to the blackout. “David, we share your frustration. We want to keep your local channels in your lineup, but by law, TEGNA has exclusive control over who can receive them. We’re working to return your local channels as soon as possible & appreciate your patience,” DirecTV responded to Price’s tweet.

Potential programming losses for viewers included the postponement of an NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.

In the Dish Network battle, Nexstar Media Group Television Stations in 120 markets and 42 states have gone completely dark. The reason for DirecTV’s blackout is the same as for the Dish blackout: failure to reach a deal between the two companies.

Dish accused Nexstar Media Group of taking away local programming from nearly 5.4 million of Dish’s subscribers in a press release on Dec. 2. “We made a fair offer to keep Nexstar stations available to our customers, but Nexstar rejected it,” The Group President of Dish TV, Brian Neylon was quoted saying in the company’s statement.

“Earlier today, we offered to extend the current contract and hold subscribers harmless while negotiations continue … 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,” he added.

Neylon has also accused Nexstar of demanding more than $1 billion to pay for fees on stations that are available from free over the air.

Blackouts continue as the companies fail to reach an agreement.