Legislators to DirecTV: End blackout of local TV stations

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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Legislators are calling on AT&T to end a blackout impacting more than 100 local TV stations.

WCBD, along with 120 Nexstar stations across the country, were dropped by DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse over the July 4th holiday and remain off the air today.

In a statement Wednesday, Congressman Joe Cunningham said he is concerned about the dispute’s effect on his constituents in the Lowcountry who rely on WCBD for local news, entertainment and emergency weather alerts. In the letter, Congressman Cunningham noted, “As we enter hurricane season, it is crucial that my constituents have access to local news, which can aid in public safety and help disseminate vital information to the public during storms.”

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Congressman Joe Cunningham called on AT&T to end blackout of local TV stations when the Congressman urging both AT&T and Nexstar to return to negotiations and stated that he hoped the local stations will be returned to the airwaves as negotiations proceed.

Legislators from other states have also weighed in.

In New York, U.S. Congressman Anthony Brindisi issued a public statement calling on “…cable giant AT&T to negotiate in good faith with local broadcasters to continue to deliver local programming to their viewers. As thousands of Upstate New Yorkers lost access to their local television station this weekend, Brindisi went to bat for the local viewers. Local television provides critical programming for folks all across our district,” Brindisi said.

In a letter directed to AT&T’s CEO, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana cites the probable impact to consumers in Louisiana at the height of hurricane season, stating “I am concerned that your failure to reach an agreement is negatively impacting Louisiana families.”  In closing, Kennedy requests of AT&T, “I encourage you to accept Nexstar’s offer of a short-term extension while you resolve your differences.”

In his statement, Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut noted, “This cutoff seems to have the sole purpose of enhancing DIRECTV bargaining leverage – with severe harm to Connecticut consumers.”

WCBD’s owner, Nexstar Media Group, said in a press release that it “remains hopeful that a resolution can be reached immediately” and stands by its offer to permit AT&T to relaunch its stations on DIRECTV and AT&T Universe through August 8 while the parties continue negotiations.

Consumers and viewers affected by AT&T/DIRECTV’s blackout can contact AT&T/DIRECTV directly at 208 South Akard Street, Dallas, TX 75202 and by phone at 855-567-1569 or 210-821-4105. Viewers affected by the loss of service from DIRECTV have several alternatives to continue watching their favorite shows including local cable providers, DISH, over-the-air, certain subscription streaming television services, and services such as Verizon’s FIOS.

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