A week after its stations were blacked out on AT&T U-verse, Raycom Media Wednesday blasted the pay-TV provider, alleging owner DirecTV is using the interruption as a means of manipulating subscribers.
“AT&T U-Verse, now combined with DirecTV, appears to be using programming disruptions as an opportunity to switch AT&T U-Verse customers to its DirecTV service,” Raycom said in a statement. “When disgruntled AT&T U-Verse subscribers call to lodge a complaint, they are offered a subscription with DirecTV, the very same company as AT&T. In some instances, subscribers are also pushed to DirecTV Now, a service that in many markets does not carry any local broadcast affiliates.”
Representatives of AT&T U-verse, which dropped Raycom stations when the parties failed to reach a carriage deal, were not immediately available for comment.
In a statement issued after the blackout, however, AT&T took jabs at Raycom for causing the situation by holding out for more retransmission consent money. “We share our customers’ frustration because Raycom is deliberately preventing its stations from reaching their homes until Raycom receives a significant increase in fees even though the same people can still watch its shows for free over-the-air and, typically, online at each network’s website or using those network’s apps,” the statement said.
According to Raycom, this is the fifth time AT&T-U-Verse "has had a disruption of service with broadcasters since their merger with DirecTV." There were no previous problems, it said. (The story had previously indicated it was the fifth disruption involving Raycom).
(Photo via Bill Bradford's Flickr. Image taken on March 4, 2016 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)