AT&T drops CBS-owned stations from DIRECTV, U-verse TV line-ups | Major Businesses | Business
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The retrans row in the US between corporate giants AT&T and CBS has led to a number of the latter’s key channels being removed for viewers across a large number of the country’s leading cities.
CBS ATT 22July2019
CBS-owned television stations have now been removed from the channel line-ups of DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW and AT&T U-verse TV customers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Tampa, Seattle, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore and 117 CBS stations and affiliates on DIRECTV NOW. In addition, CBS Sports Network has been dropped nationally from DIRECTV and DIRECTV NOW, while Smithsonian Channel has been similarly removed from DIRECTV.

As is the usual retrans battles case in these, the competing parties have taken the traditional roles in the dispute pas de deux with the carrier complaining of unacceptable fee rises by the
content firms.

CBS says that after months of negotiations, it is ‘simply’ looking to receive fair value for its programming and is proposing economic terms similar to those that AT&T’s competitors have accepted in recent distribution agreements. The DIRECTV deal that expired on 20 July was signed in 2012 and CBS says that AT&T’s renewal offer was ‘nowhere close’ to what it regards as current fair market terms for its content. CBS noted that these are levels which AT&T’s competitors have repeatedly agreed to.

For its part, AT&T retorted that the move was part of the CBS playbook, noting that the broadcaster has removed many of these same local stations for DISH Network and Charter Spectrum customers before. And that it had also threatened to remove stations to try to increase fees.

Additionally, AT&T alleged that CBS senior executives have been boasting to Wall Street about new ‘all-time highs’ in operating income and revenue while hitting cable and satellite TV providers and local station affiliates with $1.6 billion in fees the past year. AT&T said that such fees are expected to soar nearly 60% to $2.5 billion in the next 18 months.

The result is the dark screens and there seems to short-term end to the situation. CBS said that while it would continue to negotiate in good faith and hope that AT&T agrees to fair terms ‘soon’, it warned that would not agree to terms that it claimed undervalue its programming and added that the loss of programming could last a long time.