AT&T claims Hearst has pulled local broadcast stations in 26 markets
Via AT&T News Room
Jan 5, 2020
AT&T alleges that Hearst seeks to deny content to millions of NFL fans after demanding unprecedented fee increases
Despite numerous attempts to reach a new business agreement with Hearst Television Inc., and offers by AT&T to extend the deal and continue negotiating, the local broadcaster has repeatedly refused and instead pulled its stations from homes in 26 markets just hours before the start of the annual NFL postseason. As a result, Hearst is denying millions of football fans their usual access to this weekend’s opening round NFL playoff games on its stations.
Hearst is notorious for pulling content during ongoing negotiations to try to increase its fees at consumers’ expense. DISH Network, Charter Spectrum, Cox Communications and AT&T customers have all gone without Hearst stations before.
“It’s unfortunate that Hearst has chosen to punish consumers and pull its stations during the most exciting time of the football season,” said Jeff McElfresh, CEO of AT&T Communications. “We have already offered to pay Hearst stations retroactively whatever new fees we eventually agree to, but even that offer was rejected. Instead, they insist on using the NFL playoffs to harm sports fans and other consumers.”
By law, AT&T cannot offer any Hearst stations without Hearst’s permission. AT&T has repeatedly asked Hearst to keep its stations available while the two sides secure a new retransmission consent agreement. Hearst has refused this compromise for consumers and continues to demand far higher fees than AT&T has ever agreed to with any other station owner, including several recent deals with far larger broadcasters that own as many as 100 or more local stations. Hearst has rejected offers that exceed amounts AT&T has paid to other broadcasters of its size.
“Unlike Hearst, AT&T will continue to fight for consumers, and we can only hope Hearst will do what’s right,” McElfresh said. “Punishing consumers is unnecessary. All we need is Hearst’s permission and we stand at the ready to get these stations and any weekend playoff action back into homes where they belong.”
To determine if you are impacted by the Hearst take down, please visit www.att.com/tvpromise.
Stay up to date with the latest industry developments: sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox – including our daily news briefing and weekly wrap.