DirecTV, Media General Reach Agreement After Marathon Negotiations

DirecTV and Media General have reached a deal after marathon negotiations to avert a blackout of 62 TV stations in more than 40 markets.

Details of the agreement were not disclosed but Media General confirmed the pact with a message posted on its station’s websites this morning. The sides were in negotiations Wednesday until well past midnight ET.

“This fair resolution ensures that we can continue to provide top quality news, sports, entertainment, and other local programming that is most important to you,” the Media General post said.

The wrangling between DirecTV and the Richmond, Va.-based station giant was one of three closely watched contract deadlines that were originally set for Wednesday. Tribune Media and AT&T’s U-verse this morning set a 24-hour extension of a contract that was to have expired at midnight ET Wednesday covering 24 stations and WGN America.

Earlier on Wednesday, Tegna stations and Dish Network gave themselves a 24-hour breather while wrestling over a new deal covering 46 stations. A few hours before that deadline, Dish and Tegna agreed to another eight-day extension in part because of the hurricane bearing down on the Eastern seaboard, which means local news coverage in several Tegna markes could be vital for viewers.

“With Hurricane Joaquin forecast to potentially impact several Tegna markets, this extension ensures that critical programming remains available to all viewers,” the company said in a statement.

The battling over retransmission consent rights between MVPDs and station group owners comes at a time of turbulence for the players on both sides of the table. And both sectors are in the midst of a consolidation spurt designed in part to gain leverage in carriage disputes. AT&T just swallowed up DirecTV, which gives it more clout in negotiating carriage deals as the satcaster is the nation’s No. 2 MVPD, behind Comcast, with 20.5 million subscribers in the U.S.

Media General, meanwhile, has been on an acquisition tear for the past two years. At present it is in the midst of a battle with investors over its proposed merger with Meredith Corp. On Monday, Media General received an unsolicited $4.1 billion takeover bid from Nexstar, which aims to block the Media General-Meredith deal.

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