CBS programming goes dark for millions on DirecTV amid AT&T dispute

CBS programming went dark early Saturday morning for millions of viewers using AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse after the two companies failed to agree on a new distribution deal.

CBS announced that starting at 2 a.m. Saturday, AT&T would no longer include CBS-owned television stations in the channel lineups of millions of DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-verse TV customers in several major cities and had passed over 117 CBS stations and affiliates for DirecTV Now.

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The dispute focuses on the price AT&T is willing to pay the network for the right to show its channels on its satellite and cable TV packages.

“After months of negotiations, CBS is simply looking to receive fair value for its popular programming and is proposing economic terms similar to those that AT&T’s competitors have accepted in hundreds of our recent distribution agreements. The DIRECTV deal expiring tonight was signed in 2012 and is nowhere close to today’s fair market terms for CBS content – to which AT&T’s competitors have repeatedly agreed,” CBS said in a statement.

AT&T hit back at the network, saying in a statement to The Hill that CBS had turned down "an unprecedented rate increase."

“We want these CBS-owned and -operated local broadcast stations in our lineup,” the media giant said. “But customers today are demanding more value from their TV offerings.”

CBS in recent years has come to agreements with providers such as Charter Communications and Verizon Communications.

CBS, which has rights to broadcast NFL games, could gain more leverage as the blackout continues and gets closer to football season, a time that brings in a trove of viewers.

The dispute is reminiscent of a similar one between CBS and Time Warner Cable in 2013 that was resolved in about a month and concluded a few days before the beginning of the regular NFL season. However, that blackout began two weeks closer to the kickoff of the regular season.

Updated at 12:01 p.m.