Nexstar Media Group Incites Largest Blackout in Media History, Impacting Local Television Access for 68% of U.S. Households

Jul 3, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Television Alliance (ATVA) issued a statement in response to Nexstar Media Group inciting the largest blackout in media history. Several million DIRECTV subscribers do not currently have access to select local channels across the U.S. after Nexstar, the nation’s largest broadcaster, demanded DIRECTV pay more than double the current rates to provide the same programming already available to viewers today. This is in addition to the nine-month blackout driven by Nexstar-controlled station groups Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting. Those same Mission and White Knight stations have also been unavailable in DISH Network homes for the past seven months – and counting – since Jan. 6. This blackout also removes the national news channel NewsNation from most of the same homes.

“While DIRECTV has remained at the negotiating table, this blackout will impact several million DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM, and U-verse customers who are unable to watch approximately 200 local stations that Nexstar owns or controls in more than 100 metro regions that reach 68% of U.S. TV homes,” said ATVA spokesperson Cora Mandy. “Nexstar has exploited loopholes in the FCC’s rules to exceed the 39% national cap and to own or control multiple top-4 ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX local stations in 36 Nielsen DMAs, giving them increased leverage to try to raise prices above any justifiable market level.”

Already the largest U.S. local TV broadcaster, Nexstar uses sham ‘sidecars’ to further evade television ownership rules, colluding with Mission and White Knight, and overcharging consumers. 

In March, DIRECTV filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Nexstar alleging abuse of sidecars to raise retransmission consent prices to DIRECTV subscribers. Now, DIRECTV has filed a legal challenge with the FCC against Nexstar and its Mission and White Knight cohorts to combat the unjustifiable increases in local broadcast programming.

“DIRECTV subscribers are paying the price for Nexstar’s predatory behavior,” Mandy said. “The FCC must take action to end this predatory practice.”

Nexstar has spent the better part of the past two years telling Wall Street analysts it will renew 90% of its retransmission consent subscribers between late 2022 and the end of 2023. Since then, Nexstar’s excessive demands have led to a series of public clashes, as the broadcasting behemoth has threatened or removed stations from Verizon FIOS (Oct. 2022), Comcast Xfinity (Dec. 2022), DISH Network (Jan. 2023), FuboTV (Feb.-March 2023) and Altice USA-Optimum (March 2023).

Read more from DIRECTV’s FCC complaint against Nexstar here.