LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) – DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse customers stand to lose up to 23 more channels over a contract dispute with Viacom. The providers have already pulled WDRB and WBKI from their lineups over a similar contract dispute.
The contract between AT&T and Viacom is set to expire at midnight Friday, meaning popular stations like Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and BET could no longer be available.
"Unfortunately, AT&T is abusing its new market position by favoring its own content," Viacom said in a statement. “AT&T-DirecTV’s behavior is also consistent with a recent pattern of gouging their customers by charging them higher prices for an inferior product with fewer channels.”
DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse suddenly removed WDRB and WBKI from their lineups on March 15 during contract negotiations. Concerned viewers have flooded WDRB with phone calls and messages asking how to get the channels back.
DIRECTV customers can call (800) 531-5000 to tell the provider to ask to get the stations back on the air; U-verse customers can call (800) 288-2020.
In the meantime, viewers who are no longer getting the programming from DIRECTV or AT&T U-verse can watch live newscasts on WDRB.com and on their OTT streaming apps on Amazon, appleTV and Roku. You can also watch WDRB and WBKI over the air, completely free, with an antenna.
DIRECTV is telling viewers that Block Communications, which owns WDRB and WBKI, is being greedy and asking for too much compensation for carrying the stations in the Louisville area. Block is continuing to work with the providers to try to reach a deal to get the stations back on the air.
WDRB President and General Manager Bill Lamb says the request for compensation is in line with what other providers pay.
"WDRB Media has already reached fair market agreements with every other cable and satellite partner, so clearly DIRECTV and U-Verse seem to be the outliers," Lamb said.
"We serve our community with critical news and weather information. Helping our viewers navigate the severe weather that slammed our area last week is just one example of the crucial service we provide. It is important that we get back to serving our viewers as quickly as possible, and we are working diligently to do that."
WDRB is the first Louisville area station to provide real-time closed captioning to the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Subscribers continue to pay full prices to DIRECTV and AT&T despite the fact that WDRB and WBKI are not available. Customers also stand to lose MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1, BET, Paramount Network, Nick Jr., CMT, TV Land, Logo, MTV2, Nicktoons, TeenNick, MTV Classic, NickMusic, MTV Live, BET Her, CMT Music, BET Jams, Tr3s, BET Soul, BET Gospel and MTVU, if the providers do not reach a deal with Viacom.
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