Last week, we reported that AT&T was in jeopardy of losing over 60 Tegna owned local stations in 52 markets, affecting customers across the country. Those channels were pulled from DirecTV and U-Verse at 7 pm ET on December 1.
“It is alarming, albeit unsurprising, that TEGNA is
profiteering off of the need for local news at a time as critical as during a
national pandemic,” stated Jessica Kendust, ATVA spokesperson.
The American Television Alliance is an organization of consumer
groups, cable, satellite, telephone companies, and independent programmers that
raise awareness about how service disruptions impact viewers. The ATVA notes
that Tegna reported record breaking revenues for Q3, just before the dispute
“Following a self-reported revenue of $738 million in 2020’s
third quarter, TEGNA’s demand for astronomical retransmission fees on the backs
of American consumers is baffling,” stated Kendust. “ATVA is disappointed
that TEGNA is ignoring the public interest to weaponize blackouts as a
negotiation bargaining chip.”
On its website, AT&T says “As many station owners like
TEGNA keep losing viewers and sponsors, they’ve resorted to blacking out
popular local teams or any remaining hit shows at the worst possible time in
order to extract unwarranted increases over their already high fees despite
their fading popularity, leaving consumers to foot the bill.”
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