Hearst Television sent out a warning to its local stations over the weekend stating that DirecTV subscribers may lose the stations’ programming on January 1. Hearst and DirecTV are currently locked in retrans negotiations.
The general managers of Hearst-owned stations have echoed the same sentiment regarding the potential blackout: “We believe that we and DirecTV can conclude our negotiations before January 1st so as not to deprive any of our respective viewers and customers of our programming. However, we want to advise our viewers and customers that the possibility of non-renewal of our current agreement exists.”
Hearst owns 29 stations across the country, including 13 ABC-affiliates, 10 NBC-affiliates, and two CBS-affiliates. The company’s stations reach roughly 18% of U.S. households.
Station blackouts, or the threat of them, have become increasingly common in the last few years as broadcasting companies look to aggressively assert the value of their local footprint amid a shifting media landscape in which viewers rely more and more on cable/satellite companies for TV programming. In October, Fox stations in the Northeast went dark for two weeks as the company negotiated a new retrans agreement with Cablevision.