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Update Jan 5: AT&T and Hearst have reached an agreement bringing an end to a local affiliate blackout that affected subscribers to each of AT&T’s video services, including AT&T TV NOW.
Neither company confirmed the terms of the deal but did state customers who were affected by the blackout should see the channels return today. The announcement from Hearst’s perspective can be read in full here.
Original article: AT&T TV and AT&T TV NOW video customers have now lost access to Hearst local affiliates. This is the latest carriage dispute affecting AT&T video customers following similar disagreements taking place throughout 2019.
Operators and station owners routinely negotiate new deals and occasionally a deal cannot be reached between the two, resulting in channels going dark in different locations. AT&T video customers will justifiable feel this is happening to them more often than it should be considering in the last year AT&T has endured disputes with CBS, Nexstar and now Hearst.
Various Hearst local affiliates and AT&T have now confirmed they were unable to reach a deal. Suggestions a blackout might take place had been on the cards for some time due to the ongoing negotiations, although it remained to be seen whether it would reach this stage or a deal would be struct at the last minute. Evidently, a last-minute deal has not materialized resulting in customers in many locations now losing access to local affiliate channels, including ABC and NBC.
Hearst has directly accused AT&T of wanting to pay “below market rates” while adding that is “neither fair nor reasonable.” From its perspective, AT&T stated Hearst “continues to demand far higher fees than we have ever agreed to with any other station.”
What to do if you are affected?
This dispute affects AT&T TV, AT&T TV NOW, AT&T U-verse, and DIRECTV customers, although not all customers of these services are affected.
One of the easiest ways to check if the dispute applies in a specific location is to head over to AT&T”s ‘TV Promise’ website, enter the zip code and select the relevant AT&T video service. Any local services affected by this, or any other dispute, will be listed.
In their statement, Hearst local affiliates affected by the dispute are making it clear they are not blocking access to their channels but AT&T is now refusing to carry them. Therefore, the affiliates are reminding affecting customers they may still be able to access their stations through free over-the-air solutions, or alternatively, through a competing live TV provider.
By the same token, AT&T is also reminded customers that they might be able to access the same stations for free over-the-air, or through Locast.
Locast is a service that offers access to local channels over the internet for free. However, Locast is currently only available in select locations and heavily relies on user donations.