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DIRECTV subs lose access to Hearst stations

AT&T Inc.'s DIRECTV customers lost access to 34 Hearst Corp. stations as the parties failed to reach a retransmission-consent agreement, Multichannel News reported Jan. 3.

Pay TV operators pay retrans fees to broadcasters in exchange for permission to carry local stations' signals. Protracted negotiations related to those fees sometimes lead to channel blackouts if a contract expires before a new one is put in place.

The parties previously had agreed to multiple extensions to try to avoid a blackout.

"Fortunately, these stations' programs remain available for free over the air and are also often available to stream at the local station or its broadcast network's website and to fans using the broadcast network mobile app," the satellite TV provider said. "We share our customers' frustration, regret any inconvenience and appreciate their patience while we work to settle this matter as immediately as possible."

Hearst TV, meanwhile, said viewers can access its stations through an antenna or with another operator.

"We have made significant investments to deliver top-tier programming to our viewers and DIRECTV is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable," Hearst said.