×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

AT&T, CBS Continue to Spar Over Carriage Terms

AT&T and CBS are already locked in a battle over whether or not the telecom giant will be able to carry programming from local CBS stations. Now they are fighting about the fight.

Speaking during a call with investors Wednesday, AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson suggested the two companies are not that far apart on terms that would make CBS stations available again for approximately 6.6 million subscribers to the company’s DirecTV or U-verse services. “The bid asked candidly is not that wide, but it’s kind of an interesting dynamic,” Stephenson said. “We sent, that was a reasonable, fair offer over five days ago, and that’s been crickets. We haven’t heard anything.”

“CBS is seeking fair market value,” CBS said in a statement Wednesday, noting that it is “now seeking market rates from AT&T similar to what AT&T’s competitors believe our programming is worth.” The company added that it “remains ready and available to negotiate and as of today its offer of an unconditional 30-day extension still stands.” CBS also said it was prepared to entertain extending its deal with AT&T for a time to keep discussions active, but suggested AT&T wanted the extension agreement to encompass terms that were not part of the deal that had existed between the two media titans.

The back and forth is the latest example of a carriage blackout in recent weeks. AT&T is also battling with station-owner Nexstar over a retransmission deal, while satellite-broadcaster Dish is tangling with Meredith Corp. for carriage of its stations. Interestingly, AT&T and Dish are also at odds: WarnerMedia’s HBO, now part of AT&T, has been off Dish for months due to a stalemate in carriage negotiations.

At issue for many of these companies is a growing reliance on the stable fees carriage agreements generate. At a time when more viewers are migrating to streaming services, notching top linear audience levels is more difficult, and that crimps the flow of money being paid by Madison Avenue to advertise on TV. If getting top dollar from sponsors is more onerous, then media companies are forced to rely more heavily on the retransmission fees they get from cable and satellite operators.

Coming to the terms that would keep the money flowing, however, has become much more difficult. In the case of CBS and AT&T, for example, AT&T balked at a deal calling for higher prices without gaining the ability to sell its customers access to the “CBS All Access” streaming-video service. CBS, meanwhile, said in recent days that its most recent deal with AT&T “is nowhere close to today’s fair market terms for CBS content – to which AT&T’s competitors have repeatedly agreed.”

AT&T is fighting back by telling subscribers to use new technology to watch CBS programming, including Locast, a service that provides local TV signals in certain cities via digital means. AT&T in June donated $500,000 to Sports Fans Coalition NY, the non-profit group that operates Locast. “These technologies may even flow right into the programming guide in our DirecTV lineup and some customers are at a pretty significant rate finding other ways of getting through the content,” said Stephenson. “So that one could take a while. CBS, I’m optimistic, but hopefully we’re just get them back to the table and get this closed.

 

More TV

  • Jesse ArmstrongHBO presents the red carpet

    'Succesion' Creator Jesse Armstrong Signs HBO Overall Deal

    “Succession” boss Jesse Armstrong has inked a three-years overall deal at HBO, Variety has confirmed. Armstrong created the critically-acclaimed series and also serves as showrunner and executive producer. Armstrong formerly co-created the popular UK comedy series “Peep Show” and “Fresh Meat.” He also worked on the hit HBO comedy “Veep” during the show’s first season. His [...]

  • When They See Us Netflix

    'When They See Us' Shut Out of Golden Globe Nominations

    “When They See Us,” Ava DuVernay’s Netflix limited series, received no acknowledgment Monday when the nominees for the 2020 Golden Globe Awards were announced. This was despite the fact that the project, which tells the story of five young African-American men wrongly convicted of the assault of a jogger in Central Park in 1989, was [...]

  • The Crown Season 3 Olivia Colman

    Netflix, HBO Battle as Streaming Dominates 2020 Golden Globes Nominations

    And so they meet again, two war-torn awards adversaries, but this time on a different battleground. Even with plenty of snubs under its belt (including the shocking omission of “When They See Us”), Netflix led all programmers with its 17 2020 Golden Globe nominations. Not far behind was HBO, with 15. Netflix’s slight lead — [...]

  • Golden Globes Snubs and Surprises 2020

    Golden Globes Nominations: 21 Biggest Snubs and Surprises

    As the first televised awards show of the year, the Golden Globes are have always been key to building — or destroying — momentum on the long road to the Oscars and Emmys. This year on the film side, the biggest benefactor of Globes buzz is “Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach’s drama about a New York [...]

  • Game of Thrones Kit Harington

    'Game of Thrones' Season 8 Picks Up One Golden Globe Nomination

    The long night surrounding “Game of Thrones” Season 8 will continue for at least a little longer The HBO behemoth, which came to an end with its controversial eighth season back in May, scored one Golden Globe nomination on Monday morning. Kit Harington was nominated for best actor in a drama series, with the rest [...]

  • Morning Show Apple

    'The Morning Show' Scores Apple's First Ever Golden Globe Nominations

    Apple’s flagship drama “The Morning Show” picked up the recently-launched streamer’s first Golden Globe nominations on Monday. Series stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon were both nominated in the best actress in a drama category. The series itself was also nominated in the best drama series category. Witherspoon and Aniston will now compete against Olivia [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content