DirecTV, U-verse Negotiations with Station Groups Stretch Into the Night

UPDATE: Tribune Media said Thursday morning it has set a 24-hour extension with U-verse as negotiations continue.

Negotiations to avoid blackouts of more than 100 TV stations carried by DirecTV and U-verse extended well into the night on Wednesday as both companies faced midnight ET deadlines on contracts with two large station groups.

DirecTV and Media General late Wednesday agreed to push the deadline by three hours to midnight PT after a marathon negotiating session for retransmission consent rights to 62 stations.

U-verse’s talks with Tribune Media for a new retrans pact covering 24 stations stretched late into the night on Wednesday.

Earlier Wednesday, satcaster Dish Network set a 24-hour extension of its deal with Tegna (formerly Gannett Broadcasting) for 46 network affiliate stations. The new deadline is 7 p.m. ET Thursday.

Sources on both sides of the contract disputes said there were hopeful signs that blackouts would be avoided.

The contract battles over the carriage fees paid for the right to retransmit local stations come at a time of disruption for the players on both sides of the negotiating table. MVPDs are worried about cord cutting and increased competition from subscription streaming services. Broadcasters are dealing with the impact of declining live ratings and heightened competition for local advertising dollars.

“This is about the pressures on these businesses,” said David Bank, analyst with RBC Capital Markets. Station owners of network affiliates are also feeling the squeeze as networks are demanding higher payments in exchange for receiving network programming.

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