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A contract dispute between national corporations has television viewers in the Merced/Fresno/Visalia region wondering why two stations suddenly became unavailable.
The dispute is between AT&T, which owns DirecTV and the media company Nexstar, which operates more than 170 stations in the U.S. including the local NBC (KSEE24) and CBS (CBS47) affiliates.
Both channels were taken off DirecTV Wednesday night and replaced with a message that read: “the owners of this channel have removed it from your lineup.”
The message directs viewer to the AT&T site tvpromise.com.
“We had hoped to prevent Nexstar from pulling KSEE-CBS and KGPE-NBC (sic) from our Fresno and Visalia customers’ lineups and we offered Nexstar more money to keep them available. Nexstar simply said no and elected to remove them instead. Nexstar has chosen to hold our customers in Fresno and Visalia hostage and put them into the center of its negotiations,” the site says.
“This is the same old Nexstar playbook. They pull or threaten to pull their signals from customers of many distributors to increase fees for ‘free TV’ stations that far exceed their value. They’ve done it to Cox Cable, DISH and Charter Spectrum and now to us.”
In a press release, Nexstar throws blame at AT&T and says DirecTV is routinely involved in disputes with content providers. After it was acquired by AT&T in 2016, it “dropped or threatened to black out network and local community programming from DISH Network, Viacom, SJL Broadcasting/Lilly Broadcasting, and others,” the statement reads.
Nexstar says it offered AT&T an extension to keep the channels up while contract negotiations continued, but the company refused “with minutes to go before the prior agreement was to expire.”
“Nexstar has been negotiating in good faith to establish a mutually agreeable contract with DIRECTV. Significantly, Nexstar has offered DIRECTV the same rates it offered to other large distribution partners with whom it completed successful negotiations with in 2019 to date.”
Neither company was saying Friday when — or if — the stations will be back on DirecTV, though KSEE24 and CBS47 have videos and advertisement on their websites and social media urging viewers to call DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse.
Both companies are reminding viewers of other options.
KSEE24 and CBS47 are available on DISH and Xfinity or through streaming services (Hulu has a live TV option). Viewers can also view the channels with a digital antenna.
The major networks also typically stream their most popular primetime shows.