An impasse between AT&T’s DirecTV and Hearst Television that saw its 31 broadcast television stations and their digital multicast partners across 26 markets go dark on the DBS provider on New Year’s Day has ended.
In an announcement made mid-afternoon Saturday (1/7), Hearst Television President Jordan Wertlieb said, “We regret the inconvenience to DirecTV subscribers and are indebted to them and all of our advertisers for their support.”
Wertlieb also used the resolution of a new retransmission rights agreement with DirecTV to tout local broadcast television’s importance to U.S. viewers.
“We remain committed to the future of localism – ensuring the viability of local investigative journalism, breaking news and weather coverage, and quality local and national programming,” he said.
Among the stations that lost DirecTV coverage for six days are ABC affiliate WTAE-4 in Pittsburgh; NBC affiliate KCRA-3 in Sacramento; NBC WESH-2 and The CW WKCF-18 in Orlando; WPBF-25 in West Palm Beach; and ABC WCVB-5 in Boston — arguably its biggest TV station.
Prior to New Year’s Eve, Hearst had boasted that a blackout for DirecTV subscribers would be rare, and unlikely, noting that Hearst “has a long history of successfully concluding carriage agreements with cable companies and other satellite distributors with no disruption of service to subscribers.”
After its stations went dark, Hearst then went on the defensive. It said, “Throughout this process our negotiating team has been ready and available around-the-clock, including throughout the holiday weekend, to engage in substantive negotiations with DirecTV; however, we’ve been thwarted by what appears to be a strategy of unrealistic proposals and outright delay by a national distributor that does not seek to serve their subscribers or local communities.”
The last time Hearst had an issue with a retransmission agreement was in April 2014, when a dispute with DISH Network resulted in a 24-hour blackout.