DirecTV removes Nexstar’s programming after failing to reach distribution agreement

(Reuters) – DirecTV removed TV station owner Nexstar Media Group’s network and local community programming from its satellite, cable and streaming systems as they failed to reach a new distribution agreement, the companies said on Sunday.

Nexstar, the largest local TV station owner in the U.S., said in a statement that satellite provider DirecTV rejected its offer to extend the current distribution agreement to Oct. 31, adding that their Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver markets have been affected.

DirecTV in a separate statement said Nexstar demanded more than double the current viewer fees from them for the same content, leading it to losing rights to offer Nexstar’s network partners ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and CW stations in select markets, as well as the cable news service NewsNation.

“Nexstar continues to manipulate loopholes to exceed the 39% national ownership cap, and has made public statements lauding its 68% reach across all U.S. TV households,” DirecTV said.

Both companies added that they are in discussions to return Nexstar programming to DirecTV and are hopeful for a quick resolution.

DirecTV, which is 70% owned by AT&T, had sued the Irving, Texas based Nexstar in March, claiming it violated antitrust law by scheming to drive up retransmission fees for stations broadcasting the four major networks.

The lawsuit sought an order blocking Nexstar from allegedly colluding with Mission Broadcasting Inc and White Knight Broadcasting Inc in fee negotiations with DirecTV.

(Reporting by Rishabh Jaiswal in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)