Mission Broadcasting stations pulled from DirecTV in retrans consent dispute

Stations from Mission Broadcasting were blacked out on DirecTV over the weekend after the parties couldn’t reach a retransmission consent agreement.

Mission Broadcasting is headquartered in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Nexstar Media Group is involved as it manages the Mission affiliates through a shared services agreement. The current dispute means 25 stations were pulled across DirecTV in 21 markets on Friday, October 21, as well as for customers of DirecTV Stream, and U-Verse.

It’s the latest retrans spat that Nexstar is involved in – having had 14 channels blacked out on Verizon Fios earlier in October. For Fios that included local stations and NewsNation. In addition, White Knight Broadcasting – also managed by Nexstar – dropped two stations, NBC affiliates in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Fox affiliate in Taylor, Texas, from DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and U-Verse on October 7.

All of those stations remained down as of Monday, October 24.

A DirecTV spokesperson said in a statement provided to Fierce that the company had hoped to avoid a channel blackout and is working toward an agreement with Mission.

“Unfortunately, Mission Broadcasting and its 25 stations operated by Nexstar Media Group decided to exercise their right to block access to our customers in 23 cities. By law, Mission can refuse any compromise we offer and has the right to suspend any station from our customers’ local channel lineup – which we had wanted to avoid,” the DirecTV spokesperson told Fierce Video. “We continue to work toward an agreement to deliver the entertainment our customers want at the best possible value.”

In local messaging to customers, DirecTV said that broadcasters often suspend cable and streaming access to periods of time in an effort to negotiate higher rates for the next three years or more – pointing to a recent dispute with Dish Network and Mission Broadcasting over many of the same stations.

At the start of 2020 Mission blacked out channels on Dish Network, which were restored shortly after the onset of global Covid-19 pandemic – but again later pulled on September 11.

Fierce reached out to Nexstar for comment and will update with any additional information.

The American Television Alliance issued a press release Friday placing blame on Nexstar- calling out the Fios spat and White Knight Broadcasting blackout for DirecTV in two markets.

“This is now the third ongoing TV blackout in as many weeks from Nexstar,” said ATVA spokesperson Jessica Kendust. “Nexstar’s behind-the-scenes manipulation of three simultaneous negotiations has resulted in a significant loss of stations across the country, including major college and NFL football and postseason baseball games.”

The ATVA suggested Nexstar is using its market power to influence smaller broadcasters and called on Congress to act.

“When massive conglomerate broadcasters like Nexstar use their power and influence to corner the market through sham management agreements with smaller broadcasters, consumers experience more frequent TV blackouts and see their monthly bills increase,” ATVA continued. “It’s time for Congress to reform outdated TV laws and put an end to this predatory practice.”

In the recent Fios-Nexstar dispute, Brett Sappington, VP with Interpret, suggested Verizon had priced in risks of additional subscriber churn in disagreeing with Nexstar terms.

“Importantly, Verizon made a decision to risk potential cancellations by not accepting Nexstar’s terms,” Sappington wrote in an email. “That fact suggests Verizon’s belief that the loss of revenue due to cancellations is equal to or less than the increased content cost from Nexstar.”

On Friday Verizon reported losing 95,000 net consumer Fios subscribers in the third quarter.