The statement concerning CBS stations was sent from AT&T to our good friends over at Cord Cutter News.
“CBS has put our customers into the middle of its negotiations by pulling its local CBS stations in 14 cities. We were willing to continue to negotiate and also offered to pay CBS an unprecedented rate increase. That increase would present CBS the highest fee we currently pay to any major broadcast network group, despite the fact that CBS stations are available free over the air.
We had hoped to avoid any unnecessary interruption to any CBS-owned stations or national channels that some of our customers care about. But CBS refused.
CBS is a repeat blackout offender and has removed these same stations from DISH Network and Charter Spectrum customers in the past and threatened to remove them from others to ensure much 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.
In short, CBS is seeking to convert a free, publicly subsidized broadcast station into a high-cost channel while leaving cable and satellite customers holding the bag.
Make no mistake. We want the CBS owned-and-operated local broadcast stations in our lineup. Yet customers today are demanding more choice and value from their local stations. Instead, it has become clear to us that CBS is intent on blacking out any home that chooses to receive cable or satellite service, antagonizing its most loyal viewers.
CBS and other broadcasters continue to cause blackouts at a record pace with more than 213 so far this year, tying the prior record set in 2017.
The vast majority of our TV homes in thousands of different cities will continue to receive their local CBS station the same as before. For those customers who do not, CBS shows also remain available in many affected cities through the new Locast app on DIRECTV Genie and U-verse internet-connected receivers. We are also able to offer our customers an innovative product called Local Channel Connector that can put local broadcast station signals into the program guides of many DIRECTV customers with Genie receivers. Both of these options could be helpful for football fans if CBS’ removal carries on into the college and pro seasons.
Fans of any of the 14 CBS local stations involved can also watch over the air and typically at the station website, at CBS.com or using the CBS app. CBS Sports Network and Smithsonian Channel stream their shows via their own network websites and mobile apps.
There are ways to try to permanently eliminate these blackouts, including new legislation, and fortunately Congress has taken more interest. But the best option is to create mutually beneficial relationships with broadcasters like CBS through good faith negotiations.
Our goal is simple: to deliver the content our customers want at a value that also makes sense to them. We continue to fight for that here and appreciate our customers’ patience.