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CBS-AT&T negotiation goes blank

With the ever-increasing trend in cord-cutting, cable and satellite providers are facing diminishing earnings and the pressure to deliver more compelling programmes.

For the first time, CBS has gone dark on AT&T’s group of pay-TV platforms on Saturday morning, July 20. This comes after a failure in the negotiation of the distribution agreement, and the blackout has affected about 6.6 million viewers of DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-Verse — depriving New York, Los Angeles and Chicago subscribers of programmes such as CBS Evening News, and The Late Night Show With Stephen Colbert.

The dispute arose from AT&T’s disagreement with CBS’ carriage rate to air its channel on satellite and pay-TV.

Strangely, the blackout is a facsimile of the carriage dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable in 2013, which saw CBS gaining leverage over the negotiations as the blackout was concluded just  a few days before the start of the regular NFL season.

While AT&T may want to line up CBS-owned stations, customers today demand more value proposition from their pay-TV subscriptions. According to The Wall Street Journal, CBS has turned down AT&T’s “unprecedented rate increase”, citing that it is seeking fair market value for its channel.

CBS currently own rights to broadcast NFL games, and the pre-season will begin on Aug 18 this year. If the blackout persists, CBS may again gain more bargaining chips on the negotiation table.


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