L.A. station KTLA dropped from DirecTV in nationwide blackout

DirecTV satellite dishes.
DirecTV satellite dishes in Culver City.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Millions of DirecTV customers lost access to Nexstar Media Group channels after the two companies failed to agree to a new distribution contract by a Sunday night deadline.

The nationwide blackout of 159 Nexstar-owned stations — including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and CW network affiliates — began Sunday at 4 p.m. PT, the two companies said. The cable news network NewsNation was also part of the outage as well as about 30 stations that Nexstar manages, but are owned by Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting.

The impasse occurred after weeks of negotiations. DirecTV proposed a contract extension, but Nexstar declined. The station-owner then offered to extend the contract to Oct. 31, according to a Nexstar spokesman, but DirecTV didn’t want to subject its customers to a possible blackout when the NFL and college football seasons were in full swing, according to a DirecTV spokesman.


DirecTV, based in El Segundo, was then forced to remove the channels from its satellite TV service as well as DirecTV Stream and U-verse product offerings because the company no longer had legal authorization to rebroadcast Nexstar station signals.

The popular KTLA-TV Channel 5 in L.A. was also dropped from DirecTV platforms.

Charter Communications’ Spectrum customers could miss out on a holiday tradition: watching KTLA Channel 5’s television coverage of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

Dec. 28, 2018

Channel blackouts have become increasingly common in recent years as TV channel distributors, including DirecTV, Charter Spectrum, Cox Cable and Comcast‘s Xfinity, struggle to hold the line on costs rather than pass stiff increases along to customers in the form of higher bills.

DirecTV and other pay-TV distributors have lost millions of customers to cable cord-cutting in the last decade and they do not want to encourage additional subscribers to flee.

Station owners, including Nexstar, have been seeking fee increases as the cost of programming — particularly NFL football and other sports — skyrocket. Programmers also are grappling with declining ratings and a lower penetration of pay-TV homes, which result in less revenue produced by stations. Broadcast TV ratings have declined nearly 50% from a decade ago, according to DirecTV.

DirecTV said it had little choice but to remove the channels.

“After denying Nexstar’s demands for DirecTV to pay more than double the previous fees for the same content, DirecTV lost the rights to offer Nexstar-controlled ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW stations in select markets, as well as NewsNation,” DirecTV said in a statement.

In its statement, the Irving, Texas-based Nexstar said it “remains hopeful that a resolution can be reached quickly to return to viewers their favorite network programming, live sporting events, in-depth local news, and other local content relevant to their communities.”


Rob Thun, chief content officer of DirecTV, said in a statement: “We will continue to work with Nexstar to reach an agreement and will take all necessary actions to provide our customers access to their favorite programming while protecting them from unwarranted price increases.”