Tegna Reaches Agreement With AT&T to Avert DirecTV Blackoutby and
DirecTV, U-verse customers to keep getting 46 local channels
Dish Network customers were blacked out in similiar situation
Tegna Inc., which operates television stations and consumer websites, reached an agreement to continue providing customers of AT&T Inc.’s DirecTV and U-verse access to 46 local channels in the U.S., ending the threat of a blackout.
AT&T had disputed the fees requested by Tegna to carry the stations, which include WFAA-TV in Dallas, where AT&T is based. Though the companies’ previous accord expired at midnight Dec. 4, Tegna and the DirecTV and U-verse units had agreed to a 24-hour extension to negotiate.
Tensions have grown as broadcasters demand higher rates from cable- and satellite-TV providers that deliver their programming to consumers, increasing the number of blackouts this year. Fees paid to broadcast networks and stations by subscription-TV services may jump 21 percent to almost $6 billion this year, and 90 percent to $9.3 billion by 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence.
Part of the rationale for AT&T’s $48.5 billion purchase of DirecTV was to increase bargaining power in such negotiations. The company saw the combination of its 6 million U-verse TV customers with DirecTV’s 20 million satellite-TV customers as a way to gain leverage over broadcasters like Tegna, thus lower programming costs.
No terms of the multi-year agreement were disclosed in a statement released Saturday.
McLean, Virginia-based Tegna, the former broadcasting and digital businesses of Gannett Co., was locked in a similar dispute last month with Dish Network Corp. After a two-day blackout, the companies reached a new agreement on Oct. 11 that restored customers’ access to local channels in 38 U.S. markets.
AT&T recently renewed deals with TV-station owners Tribune Media Co. and Media General Inc.