Advanced Television

CBS goes dark on AT&T

July 22, 2019

Some 6.5 million DirecTV subscribers across the US lost access to CBS programming early on July 20th after the broadcaster and AT&T failed to renew their contract.

The CBS network, home to shows including NCIS, Big Brother, The Big Bang Theory and Stephen Colbert’s Late Show (pictured) is carried in circa 119 million homes across the US, including the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco markets.

The network was cut off from AT&T’s satellite service DirecTV as well as the landline-delivered U-verse and streaming service DirecTV Now, after the two companies were unable to agree on the terms of a new contract before the current one concluded.

Despite negotiating on the contract for several weeks, AT&T and CBS could not decide on pricing and streaming rights. The pay-TV operator is pushing for a smaller fee increase and the ability to sell the streaming service as a separate option by removing it from the basic bundle.

CBS posted a public announcement on its website saying: “After months of negotiations, CBS is simply looking to receive fair value for its popular programming and is proposing economic terms similar to those that AT&T’s competitors have accepted in hundreds of our recent distribution agreements.”

The contract was originally signed in 2012, but CBS argues that is now nowhere close to today’s fair market terms for CBS content.

CBS claim that AT&T has declined a 30-day extension which could have prevented the blackout.

In response, AT&T has branded CBS a “repeat blackout offender” and said it has been demanding unprecedented increases in the fees it charges.

The affected customers account for tens of millions of dollars in monthly revenue to CBS.

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