DirecTV and U-Verse threatened with Meredith blackout

Blackout

The nation’s third largest station group says it will pull its 15 network affiliates off DirecTV if a new broadcast retransmission deal can’t be hammered out today.

Meredith Corp. began informing its viewers Thursday that it’s at an impasse on a new deal with AT&T for the two pay-TV platforms. 

"WNEM has been trying for months to get AT&T and DirecTV to negotiate seriously," said Al Blinke, general manager of Flint/Saginaw, Michigan, CBS affiliate WNEM-TV. "Reaching a deal and preventing a blackout is our top priority."

AT&T spokeswoman Teresa Mask responded to local news site Michigan Live: "Meredith is currently threatening to block WNEM from reaching our local customers' homes unless Meredith receives a significant increase in fees, even though the same people can still watch its shows for free over-the-air on channel 5 and, typically, at cbs.com or using the CBS app.”

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Meredith also controls CBS affiliates in Phoenix, Hartford/New Haven, Connecticut, Atlanta, Springfield, Massachusetts, Kansas City, Missouri, and St. Louis. It also has several ABC and FOX affiliate stations in its portfolio. 

AT&T is also currently blacked out by two Midwestern affiliates owned by Dispatch Broadcast Group: Columbus, Ohio, CBS affiliate WBNS-TV and Indianapolis NBC station WTHR-TV.

In its statement, Meredith used AT&T’s corporate girth to position itself as the underdog. 

"WNEM may not be as important to AT&T and DirecTV as it was when AT&T and DirecTV were far smaller," he said. "But we believe WNEM is just as important to you, our viewers, no matter how large your cable or satellite company is."