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22 Mar 2017

AT&T Keeps Local Raycom Media Stations In The Dark

AT&T U-Verse has not restored Raycom Media stations to their lineup in 23 local markets. The stations were dropped from local service as of 11:59pm Eastern Time on March 15, 2017. This disruption of service with Raycom Media represents the fifth time that AT&T U-Verse has had a disruption of service with broadcasters since their merger with DirecTV. Prior to the AT&T merger with DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse had no signal disruptions during retransmission negotiations.

AT&T U-Verse, now combined with DirecTV, appears to be using programming disruptions as an opportunity to switch AT&T U-Verse customers to its DirecTV service. When disgruntled AT&T U- Verse subscribers call to lodge a complaint, they are offered a subscription with DirecTV, the very same company as AT&T. In some instances, subscribers are also pushed to DIRECTV NOW, a service that in many markets does not carry any local broadcast affiliates: a zero-sum game for subscribers.

"Maintaining our connection to our local communities is always the goal in our negotiations. Raycom Media offered 3 extensions through this negotiation process in an effort to continue our negotiations without affecting our viewers on the AT&T U-Verse system," said Pat LaPlatney, Raycom Media President and CEO. "In the last 3 years, Raycom Media has successfully negotiated retransmission consent agreements with 99.5% of operators without an interruption in service. It's difficult to negotiate an agreement if that is not part of the AT&T U-Verse business plan."

Raycom Media reached a total of 11 retransmission agreements with multichannel video programming distributors ("MVPDs") in 2016. The deals covered 41 Raycom Media markets, and maintained service to over 2.5 million subscribers with no disruption, representing over 15% of the total subscriber base that chooses to view Raycom Media programming via a MVPD.

Read more about AT&T's broader strategy by clicking on these following article links:

AT&T Takes U Turn on U-Verse as It Pushes Toward Direct TV published by AdvertisingAge.

A Look At AT&T's Pay TV Business A Year After the DirecTV Deal published by Forbes.

Did AT&T Force Consumers From U-Verse to DirecTV published by TVFreedom.org.