WRBL-TV, Nexstar removed from DIRECTV programming

Published 2:57 pm Friday, July 5, 2019

WRBL-TV programming has been removed from the DIRECTV satellite television system and the AT&T U-verse cable television systems serving East Alabama and West Georgia.

According to a statement from Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc., the company that owns WRBL-TV, the blackout began at 11:59 p.m. on July 3 after talks broke down between negotiators for AT&T and Nexstar.

According to a written statement released by Nexstar, it offered “an unconditional extension of the existing distribution agreement to Aug. 2,” to AT&T so negotiations could continue without interruption of programming. “However, with minutes to go before the previous agreement was set to expire, DIRECTV/AT&T did not accept Nexstar’s offer for an extension,” the statement said.

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In a statement released by AT&T, the provider said it hoped to prevent Nexstar from removing stations.

“We even offered Nexstar more money to keep their stations available,” AT&T’s statement said. “However, Nexstar simply said no and chose to remove them instead. By doing so, Nexstar has put you in the center of its negotiations.”

AT&T said Nexstar has had similar dealings with other satellite providers in the past as well.

“Nexstar pulls or threatens to pull their stations from the customers of TV providers to increase fees for stations far beyond their value,” the statement said. “They’ve done it to Cox Cable, DISH, and Charter Spectrum, and now they’re doing it to us.”

AT&T said it will continue to work with Nexstar and that similar disputes are often resolved quickly.

The blackout by the nation’s largest direct broadcast satellite service provider affects all Nexstar televisions stations, more than 120 in 97 markets across the United States.

Nexstar, in its statement, said it wants to work out a deal with DIRECTV.

“Nexstar remains eager to complete an agreement with DIRECTV consistent with those it has made with every other cable, satellite and telco provider to end DIRECTV ’s action that is both unnecessary and punitive to its subscribers,” the statement said.

The statement goes on to say DIRECTV is holding its subscribers hostage.

“Nexstar regrets that DIRECTV is willing to hold its paying subscribers’ hostage because it won’t agree to fair and reasonable terms for viewers’ favorite programming,” the statement said.

WRBL-TV General Manager David Hart said the negotiations between Nexstar and ATT&T will not affect its work.

“We regret any inconvenience caused to our loyal viewers by AT&T’s reckless actions,” Hart said in a statement on WRBL’s website. “Rest assured we will continue to serve our community and keep bringing quality news, sports, and entertainment shows to viewers in East Alabama and the Chattahoochee Valley.”