No Steven Colbert. No “60 Minutes. No nothing this week on KFMB, the San Diego CBS affiliate, and CW San Diego for those looking for them on DirecTV and AT&T U-verse.
What’s a satellite TV and cable junky to do?
The latest in TV content disputes hit San Diego and 50 other markets hosting Tegna’s 64 TV stations reaching 41.7 million TV households covering 39% of the country with a big blackout thud Monday. Tegna said its stations have gone dark in a retransmission consent dispute with AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse services.
“Unfortunately, DirecTV AT&T U-Verse have not come to an agreement with Tegna to keep our stations available on their services. Our company has successfully negotiated multi-year deals with hundreds of cable and satellite providers across the country without disruptions to service,” Tegna said in a statement.
An AT&T spokesperson accused Tegna of taking advantage of viewers during a crisis.
“in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, Tegna is demanding the largest rate increase we have ever seen, and intentionally blacking out its most loyal viewers. We challenge Tegna to return its local stations immediately while we finalize a new agreement and pledge to pay Tegna retroactively whatever higher rates to which we eventually agree. We share our customers’ frustration, appreciate their patience and intend to do all we can to resolve this matter soon,” the spokesperson said.
Local KFMB fans with DirecTV have alternatives for now, according to a KFMB spokesperson, aside from using an antennae or over-the-air connections. Local programming also is available through streaming channels and the KFMB website.
TEGNA has exclusive control over which homes are allowed to receive either ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, or CW in certain cities, regardless of what provider they choose.
Aside from San Diego, Tegna’s stations across the country have various affiliations, including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, MyNetworkTV, and The CW. Of particular note to local sports fans, Tegna owns the CBS affiliate in New Orleans, meaning fans in that area won’t receive Saturday’s Alabama-LSU game. Tegna also owns the NBC affiliate in Denver, which will be a huge issue for Broncos fans on Sunday night. Additionally, the CBS affiliate in Houston is Tegna-owned, creating potential problems for Texans fans wanting to watch the game with the Colts on Sunday.
At a time when pay-TV companies are losing subscribers to cord cutting, pricing is a sensitive content. But Tegna said what it broadcast is worth paying for.
“Our content remains the most popular and highly viewed programming available. More importantly, the value of what we offer to our MVPD partners has never been greater. The differentiated, non-substitutable programming we provide including live local news, live local and national sports and first run, highly popular network content is a vital reason why consumers continue to subscribe to MVPD bundles,” Tegna said.
“While we remain hopeful that this will get resolved quickly, our viewers should know that our channels are available on other service providers in their community as well as many streaming services that offer instant access when viewers sign up. As always, our stations are also available for free over-the-air and viewers can watch our newscasts live on our stations’ websites, Roku and mobile apps,” it said.
Another big broadcaster, Nexstar Media Group, could have its stations go off the air this week if it is unable to reach a deal with Dish. That outage could happen today.
TV consumers losing programming during these routine negotiations has become a new normal as the industry adapts to an evolving media environment. Business models are changing for TV providers, and station owners like Nexstar have moved to consolidate assets.
KFMB-TV / CBS 8 was the first television station in San Diego to go on the air when it flipped the switch in 1949. KFMB-TV News, also known as News 8, has been the top-rated news station for most of its history, with local weekday newscasts at 4:30 a.m., 5:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 5:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 11:00 p.m. Weekend newscasts air at 5:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 11:00 p.m. KFMB-TV is the only station in the city to have maintained the same network affiliation (CBS) throughout its history.
KFMB-TV / CBS 8 is owned and operated by TEGNA Inc., an innovative media company that serves the greater good of its communities. Across platforms, TEGNA delivers relevant and trusted content by telling empowering stories, conducting impactful investigations and providing innovative and unparalleled solutions for advertisers through TEGNA Marketing Solutions. For more information, visit www.TEGNA.com.