Controversy kicks two Utah TV stations out of DirecTV

How long the standoff with Nexstar will last is anyone’s guess.

(Nexstar Media Group) Nexstar channels – including Utah’s KTVX Channel 4 and KUCW Channel 30 – have been removed from DirecTV’s offering.

Two Utah television stations have been removed from DirecTV’s listings. This is part of what the satellite TV provider calls the “largest local television outage in US history.”

DirecTV subscribers who want to tune into ABC affiliate KTVX-Channel 4 or CW affiliate KUCW-Channel 30 will have to unpack their antennas or find another way to watch the two Nexstar-owned channels.

Of course it always depends on the money. And both DirecTV and Nexstar blame each other for the impasse.

According to a DirecTV spokesman, Nexstar is charging “more than double what it was previously for the same content,” and that would “pass an additional cost on to viewers.” And since both sides could not reach an agreement, DirecTV is “prohibited from offering Nexstar channels to its customers”.

(Courtesy of DirecTV) DirecTV is in a dispute with Nexstar Media Group, which owns both KTVX Channel 4 and KUCW Channel 30 in Utah.

In a statement, Nexstar emphasized that the company offered “the same competitive pricing it has offered to other channel partners with whom it has successfully negotiated over the past year” for its “highly rated program.”

However, DirecTV argued that Nexstar’s channels have become “less valuable” because the channels’ overall ratings have fallen 46% since 2010 and the major channels have moved “live sports and other popular programs online.”

In addition to the two local stations, local subscribers to DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and U-verse also lost access to Nexstar-owned cable news channel NewsNation.

Both sides promised to continue negotiations. Negotiations between DirecTV and Nexstar are ongoing at the corporate level, so KTVX and KUCW management can only wait for the dispute to be resolved.

This isn’t just a Utah problem. All 159 Nexstar stations in about 100 TV markets nationwide are owned by DirecTV — dozens of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW affiliates. About 10 million viewers are affected.

How long this impasse will last is unclear. Exactly four years ago – on July 3, 2019 – Nexstar channels including KTVX and KUCW were removed from DirecTV when the two sides failed to reach an agreement. This dispute lasted eight weeks; The two sides settled just before the start of college football and NFL seasons.

In April 2019, after almost eight months of dispute, KSL-Channel 5 was finally able to negotiate a deal that brought the station back into DirecTV’s programming.

The anger between the satellite TV provider and the country’s largest local broadcaster owner goes beyond this dispute. DirecTV has filed a state antitrust lawsuit against Nexstar, accusing the company of violating Federal Communications Commission rules with “shame sidecars” — 27 stations that Nexstar doesn’t own but controls through agreements under which it operates and such circumvents ownership limits. According to the complaint, “Nexstar is conspiring to manipulate the cost of retransmission consent to American consumers.”

Since the legislation came into force in 1992, cable and satellite providers have had to obtain permission – the must-carry – from broadcasters to transmit their signals. This approval generally comes after the satellite/cable company agrees to pay for it.

Justin Scaccy

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