The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Friday stated it was directing broadcast station groups to go to the negotiating desk over whether to permit local stations to air on AT&T Inc’s DirectTV after some shoppers have been without access for five months.
In June, AT&T filed a grievance against nine individual station owners, which together pulled 20 stations in 17 cities from DIRECTV NOW, DIRECTV and U-verse. The nine station teams are either managed or owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, AT&T stated.
One of these owners controls three ABC, CBS, NBC, or FOX associates; another has two, and five owners have one. AT&T mentioned it had struck an agreement with three of the nine broadcasters called out in the complaint.
AT&T reached contracts with two of the entities, while the FCC stated the seven remaining broadcast station groups “violated the per se good faith agreement standards” and cited repeated delays by the moderator for the owners in agreeing to talks. “That is the most extreme example of delay that we have encountered since the good faith guidelines were adopted,” the FCC stated.
In October, Sinclair stated it had inked a multiyear settlement across DIRECTV, AT&T TV, and U-verse for continued use of Sinclair’s owned local broadcast stations and another programming, along with the Tennis Channel and a regional sports community that includes Chicago Cubs games coming in 2020.
The debate comes as Congress is considering whether to reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, a law governing the retransmission of broadcast television by satellite corporations. If the regulation is not prolonged, the FCC will lose the authority to implement “good faith” guidelines about retransmission approval.