DirecTV customers across the Southland have lost access to CBS and KCAL indefinitely in a fee dispute between CBS Corp. and AT&T, which owns the satellite provider.
Beginning minutes after 11 p.m. Friday, when a contract between the two sides expired, the following message appeared on the screens of DirecTV viewers who selected either channel:
“CBS has removed this channel from your lineup despite our request to keep it available to you. We share your frustration and regret any inconvenience.
“As an alternative, you can watch this station using the Locast app. … You can also watch some CBS programming on CBS.com or with a subscription to the CBS All Access App.”
The blackout affects more than a dozen cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Chicago.
“After months of negotiations, CBS is simply looking to receive fair value for its popular programming,” network officials said Friday. “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.
“CBS granted an extension of its current deal with AT&T earlier this month in order to try to reach an agreement without consumers being put in the middle. We also offered a 30-day extension yesterday to work towards a fair deal for all parties — most importantly, our loyal viewers — but AT&T declined that additional extension.”
The statement went on to say, “… 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.”
Representatives for AT&T said the company was “willing to continue to negotiate and also offered to pay CBS an unprecedented rate increase” and accused CBS of being a “repeat blackout offender” as the two sides traded blame for the impasse.
“…it has become clear to us that CBS is intent on blacking out any home that chooses to receive cable or satellite service, antagonizing its most loyal viewers,” an AT&T statement said.
KCAL is owned by CBS. The blackout also affects the Smithsonian Channel and the CBS Sports Network.
The two sides are thought to be far apart on a new fee structure, with DirecTV feeling the pinch from streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, YouTubeTV and Amazon that offer programming for cheaper monthly rates.