CBS goes dark for DirecTV customers following AT&T contract dispute

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AT&T, which owns DirecTV, said CBS is trying to take advantage of customers leaving cable and satellite.

Additionally, CBS Sports Network has been dropped from DirecTV and legacy DIRECTV NOW subscribers, while Smithsonian Channel has has been removed from DirecTV.

The previous contract expired without a replacement at 2 a.m.

A CBS logo is seen outside its headquarters, in NY.

The network is still available free through an antenna but about 90 million of the 119 million homes that receive CBS get it through paid TV, generating billions of dollars for the network, according to The Times. The friction between AT&T and CBS marks one of the largest retrans-related station blackouts in recent memory as it hits so many large markets.

They were among some 6.5 million DirecTV subscribers across the nation affected by the blackout, the result of a stalemate in talks between CBS and AT&T over the cost of DirecTV's access to the broadcast network's programming. "The DirecTV deal expiring tonight was signed in 2012 and is nowhere close to today's fair market terms for CBS content - to which AT&T's competitors have repeatedly agreed". AT&T has lost about 1 million DirecTV subscribers in the previous year, and so the company has been balking at CBS' demands. A number of those stations are also CBS affiliates. AT&T blasted CBS for investing in the CBS All Access service that competes with MVPDs rather than its local stations that receive high retrans fees. CBS is also preparing to head into crucial contract negotiations with the NFL.

To prepare for the blackout, AT&T has been steering consumers to its Locast app, which enables viewers to stream programming from their ABC, CBS and other broadcast stations via the Internet.

In relation to a reduced price rise, AT&T also advocates the capacity to sell the streaming service of CBS as a distinct alternative, which can provide it with greater flexibility and reduced expenses by removing the channel from its fundamental package.

"While we continue to negotiate in good faith and hope that AT&T agrees to fair terms soon, the loss of CBS programming could last a long time", CBS said. CBS has received a notification.

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