Legislators call on AT&T to end blackout of local TV stations

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Legislators are calling on AT&T to end a blackout impacting more than 100 local TV stations.

WIVB and WNLO are two of the Nexstar stations across the country that have been blacked out by DirecTV and AT&T.

In a letter to AT&T and Nexstar, Congressman Brian Higgins writes that the lack of access does not serve public interest or safety.

“My constituents in Western New York rely on vibrant local media outlets for access to local news, in addition to weather and public safety announcements,” stated Higgins, D-New York’s 26th Congressional District.

In the letter dated July 10, Higgins further highlights “the special contributions that local broadcasting and journalism” make to the Buffalo community.

Also 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.

“These blackouts are a public safety issue. Many New Yorkers use local television to find out about breaking news, traffic accidents, and important weather events. These blackouts need to end.”

Legislators from other states have also weighed in.

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 letter, 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.”

WIVB’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.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Congressman Brian Higgins called on AT&T to end blackout of local TV stations when the Congressman called on both AT&T and Nexstar to negotiate with each other in good faith.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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