AT&T and DIRECTV subscribers may lose access to CBS46 & Peachtree TV in Atlanta

This was posted on Thursday, September 21, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Subscribers of AT&T and DIRECTV might lose access to Meredith-owned CBS46 (WGCL-TV) and Peachtree TV (WPCH-TV) tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 22, if the two sides can’t come to an agreement.

CBS46 and Peachtree TV have begun notifying viewers of this possibility Thursday.

[UPDATE: As of 10:27 a.m. EST Friday, Meredith has not pulled its programming off AT&T and DIRECTV.]

[UPDATE: As of 6:43 p.m. EST Friday, an AT&T representative said it appears the two sides have resolved their issues and a blackout won’t happen.]

“WGCL/WPCH have been trying for months to get AT&T and DIRECTV to negotiate seriously,” said General Manager Mark Pimental in a statement. “Reaching a deal and preventing a blackout is our top priority.  We know the vital local news, emergency information, and top-rated sports and entertainment programming we provide are important to AT&T’s and DIRECTV’s customers, and we hope AT&T and DIRECTV will make it a priority to reach a deal too.”

Here’s AT&T and DIRECTV’s response:

First and foremost … we (AT&T/DirecTV) will not “drop” these stations.

We want to keep WGCL and WPCH in our Atlanta customers’ local lineups. Doing so requires permission from their owner, Meredith Corp., since FCC rules grant WGCL and WPCH exclusive control over whether either station remains available on either DIRECTV or U-verse. Meredith is currently threatening to block WGCL and WPCH from reaching our local customers’ homes unless Meredith receives a significant increase in fees even though the same people can still watch its shows for free over-the-air on channels 46 and 17 and, typically, at cbs.com or using the CBS app. Meredith has blocked its stations from reaching different providers’ customers before and also threatened to disconnect others.

We’d like to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably, and appreciate our Atlanta customers’ patience while we attempt just that.

Companies that own TV channels typically sign deals with carriers such as Xfinity and Charter every few years to allow them to carry their networks. This happens both locally and nationally. Occasionally, these disputes bubble out publicly, and both parties try to get customers to call in and complain.

It’s impossible to know which side is right or wrong from the outside. Usually, each side tries to pin the blame on the other in public statements for being greedy/unreasonable/uncaring to the customers. Typically after they resolve the issue, they shake hands and act like this never happened.

If a blackout happens Friday, AT&T and DIRECTV subscribers would not be able to watch shows such as “The Young & the Restless,” “The Talk” and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” If it drags into Sunday, viewers would miss some NFL games (Steelers/Bears and Packers/Bengals) and the debut of “Star Trek: Discovery.” Monday includes the season premieres of “The Big Bang Theory,” “Kevin Can Wait” and “Scorpion” and the series debuts of “Young Sheldon” and “Me, Myself & I.” On Tuesday, “NCIS,” “Bull” and “NCIS: New Orleans” return. On Wednesday, the 35th season of “Survivor” and “Criminal Minds” come back, plus a new series “SEAL Team.”

Obviously, anyone can access these two channels locally via a proper antenna since they are broadcast networks.


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