For local TV newscasts, the ratings battle for viewers is tighter than ever.
Local CBS affiliate WNCN, also known as CBS 17, went black for AT&T U-verse and DirecTV customers on Thursday after the cable company failed to reach a carriage deal with Nexstar, which owns the station.
The outage occurred just after midnight on July 4th and affects more than 120 Nexstar stations across the country.
A statement on the CBS 17 website says that DirecTV and AT&T “unilaterally dropped the network” after rejecting an Aug 2. extension requested by Nexstar.
AT&T acquired DirecTV in 2015, so DirecTV and U-Verse customers are both affected.
Nexstar also asserts that “the development is highly unusual for Nexstar but far more common for DIRECTV/AT&T.”
In 2017, AT&T/DirecTV dropped WRAL and Fox 50, both owned by Capitol Broadcasting, and the dispute lasted for almost three months before service was restored.
“We had hoped to prevent Nexstar from pulling WNCN-CBS from our Raleigh-Durham customers’ lineups and we offered Nexstar more money to keep it available. Nexstar simply said no and elected to remove it instead. Nexstar has chosen to hold our customers in Raleigh-Durham hostage and put them into the center of its negotiations. ... This is the same old Nexstar playbook. They pull or threaten to pull their signals from customers of many distributors to increase fees for “free TV” stations that far exceed their value. They’ve done it to Cox Cable, DISH and Charter Spectrum and now to us.”
CBS’ summer programming includes “Big Brother,” “Young & the Restless” and “60 Minutes.”
Viewers can still get CBS programming with an over-the-air antenna, sold at big box stores such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target, and also from Amazon (it could be your first step to cutting the cord).