CBS goes dark for DirecTV, AT&T customers: A look at other recent carrier disputes

CBS programming went dark for AT&T customers in 14 major markets last Saturday amid a business dispute between the two corporate giants, marking the latest instance of an impasse between telecom companies that resulted in a blackout for some viewers.

The blackout affected DirecTV and AT&T U-verse customers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and various other major cities. Viewers lost access to CBS and CW affiliates, as well as the CBS Sports Network and the Smithsonian Channel.

CBS and AT&T have each denied responsibility for the blackout, which arose after the two sides failed to reach terms on a new distribution agreement. In a statement to Variety, AT&T referred to CBS as a “repeat blackout offender” who has regularly threatens to remove programming to secure higher fees.

“CBS continues to demand unprecedented increases even as CBS advances content on CBS All Access instead of on its local broadcast stations. CBS has said publicly that it priced All Access much higher to capitalize on customers it can capture from cable, satellite or other means of distribution,” AT&T said.

CBS alleged that it offered a 30-day extension on negotiations and warned that the dispute “could last a long time.”

“CBS is simply looking to receive fair value for its popular programming and is proposing economic terms similar to those that AT&T’s competitors have accepted in hundreds of our recent distribution agreements,” CBS said in a statement. “The DirecTV deal expiring tonight was signed in 2012 and is nowhere close to today’s fair market terms for CBS content – to which AT&T’s competitors have repeatedly agreed.”


Other impacted cities include Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston, Miami, San Francisco, Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Denver, Minneapolis and Sacramento.

FOX Business breaks down other recent carriage disputes below.

Meredith Corp. vs. Dish, July 2019

About 17 Meredith-owned stations in 12 markets went dark for Dish network subscribers earlier this month. The two sides agreed to a 24-hour extension to negotiations, but failed to reach terms.

Nexstar Media Group vs. DirecTV/AT&T, July 2019

More than 120 Nexstar-owned stations went dark for AT&T customers earlier this month. The blackout reportedly occurred after AT&T rejected an offer for a one-month extension on negtiations.

Tribune Broadcasting vs. Charter Spectrum, January 2019

More than 30 Tribune stations in 24 markets went offline for Charter Spectrum customers in a despite over increased carriage fees.