On February 22, 2019, ATT/Directv made the calculated choice to deprive their customers of the local television stations provided by Northwest Broadcasting everywhere Northwest does business. ATT/Directv did this even though on numerous occasions Northwest had offered an unconditional extension to keep the stations on their systems while negotiations continued.
ATT/Directv has for years been lobbying the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking that in a retransmission negotiation that stations not be allowed to withhold their programming so as not to disrupt their customers. From the beginning of our negotiations Northwest said that under no circumstance would it disrupt ATT/Directv subscribers. For 13 months Northwest extended its agreement with ATT/Directv while attempting to negotiate a successful agreement with them. However, disrupting their subscribers turned out to be exactly ATT/Directv’s strategy.
Over the past few months, it has become clear that ATT/Directv decided that with its financial might, it developed a new strategy of dealing with broadcasters. Approximately eight weeks ago, despite an extension offered by the several different broadcasters, ATT/Directv disrupted their customers in 20 more cities. Then over the 4th of July holiday ATT/Directv disrupted their customers again. Nexstar Broadcasting offered ATT/Direct an extension to August 2nd to work through its agreement, however, ATT/Directv refused the extension and took the stations away from their subscribers. Just days ago, ATT/Directv disrupted their customers again by taking the CBS Network stations away from their subscribers.
At some point you must look at ATT/Directv as the constant in an equation that has left approximately 148 cities without access to over 225 television stations and ask what is going on. As many of you may know, ATT recently purchased Time Warner’s programming, so they are now in direct competition with broadcasters like Northwest for viewers like you. It appears that their disruption strategy is to move viewers to their properties while creating a situation while deflecting the blame of these outages to the broadcasters. This is exactly what they are telling the federal regulators.
ATT/Directv, a company that has a market valuation of over 300 billion dollars has been lobbying congress for protection against broadcasters for years, pleading that they are at the mercy of these broadcasters who are a fraction of its size. ATT would have you believe that they are defenseless against companies like Northwest and they need the government to step in an protect them. Seriously?
ATT/Directv does not seem to care about their subscribes at all. When Northwest requested that Directv leave the station on due to public safety concerns, they said, “people don’t need your stations they can get their news and weather elsewhere” Yet, at the same time they try to convince the regulators that they always put public safety first. ATT has convinced the government to trust them with running a private public partnership called FirstNet. FirstNet is a first responder communication system that ATT will receive billions of dollars to build and operate. ATT is spending millions of dollars running ads for
FirstNet claiming that are doing this to help make your community be safer, smarter and stronger. Does this sound like the same Company who deprives you of your local news and weather information which in times of emergencies you rely on for your safety?
For months, Northwest has tried to find a resolution to this standoff, usually without any response from ATT/Directv. It is clear that ATT/Directv is working a strategy that is far bigger than getting a successful negotiation completed and giving their customers the stations back they want. It has become clear over the last couple of months that they have no intention of getting this done. Up until recently, I have been careful not to tell people to find a different service. However, given ATT/Directv’s lack of response to Northwest and their recent actions to systematically create television outages around the country, I don’t see a solution on the horizon. At this point I would tell you that if you want to continue watching our stations you will need to switch from ATT/Directv.
Previous Message Regarding DIRECTV From Northwest CEO Brian Brady
To DIRECTV customers missing our stations:
As I am sure you are all aware, with little notice DIRECTV removed all of Northwest Broadcasting's stations from the DIRECTV lineup on February 22. This was done in spite of Northwest's unconditional offer to allow DIRECTV to continue carrying our stations while the parties resolved their differences. Northwest has repeatedly informed DIRECTV that our unconditional offer to carry our stations remains in place, but it has not moved DIRECTV to return our stations to their programming lineup. DIRECTV continues to use you , their customer, as a pawn in negotiating with Northwest.
DIRECTV customers should understand that DIRECTV's actions are not about money it pays to Northwest. Rather, after a year of negotiating, DIRECTV insisted on changing a provision in our agreement which had long been settled and has insisted on dictating the terms on how Northwest can run its business and how it can grow in the future. Northwest cannot and will not let a third party, even DIRECTV, tell us what we can and cannot do.
It is even more infuriating when this issue is the very issue which AT&T/DIRECTV argued against when it bought Time Warner last year. AT&T/DIRECTV repeatedly said that it had to be allowed to grow to remain competitive in its markets, but is now insisting that it be able to restrict Northwest in its business strategy. This behavior is the very essence of anti-competitive behavior for which the US Justice Department expressed concern with AT&T/DIRECTV's acquisition of Time Warner
Northwest continually reaches out to DIRECTV to resolve this impasse and implores them to stop holding its customers hostage in its negotiation. As you know, DIRECTV refuses to do so. You, as their customer, deserves better from them. At the very least, those of you who have chosen to stay with DIRECTV through this ordeal deserve the $50 per month credit for twelve months they have offered many of you. Those of you have not received your credit should call them today for yours.
MANY OF YOU HAVE ASKED WHAT YOU CAN DO TO GET YOUR STATIONS BACK ON DIRECTV. YOU CAN DO TWO THINGS: YOU CAN CALL DIRECTV AND DEMAND THEY GIVE YOU THE STATIONS BACK AND YOU CAN CALL YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND ASK THAT THEY DEMAND THAT AT&T/DIRECTV TO ACT REASONABLY AND RESPONSIBLY AS A HOLDER OF A LICENSE WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO SERVE THE NEEDS OF THE PUBLIC.
Sooner or later, somebody will listen!
Brian W. Brady, President/CEO
Previous Message from Northwest Broadcasting CEO Brian Brady - Regarding DIRECTV
To all viewers:
I have spoken to many of you over the last two weeks regarding the issue of our stations being off Directv. There is anger, frustration and a general feeling of distrust of both Directv and Northwest. It is clearly understandable as our two companies give you rhetoric which tries to point the finger in the opposite direction from ourselves.
Rather than try to convince you who’s to blame or how we got here I want to make sure you know that we agree with you. There is no reason for the two of us to put you in the middle of this negotiation as that seems inherently unfair to all of you. It is also dangerous as many of you are in markets that are experiencing severe weather and depend on our stations for news and weather information.
I want to be clear with all of you that Northwest Broadcasting has and will continue to allow Directv to put our stations back on their system while our companies continue to work out our differences. This unconditional offer which has been made to Directv will allow you access to the channels you want to watch without being put in the middle of this.
President and CEO
In the meantime, you may reach out to your legislators to notify them of your concerns.
Representative Mike Simpson 202 225-5531
Senator James Risch 202 224-2752
Senator Mike Crapo 202 224-6142
Representative Liz Cheney 202 225-2311
Senator Mike Enzi 202 224-3424
Senator John Barrasso 202 224-6441