CBS channels get blackout on DirecTV and other AT&T services

A dispute over rates means TV viewers in cities across the US can't watch CBS offerings.

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A born browser of dictionaries and a lifelong New Englander, Jon Skillings is an editorial director at CNET. He honed his language skills as a US Army linguist (Polish and German) before diving into editing for tech publications -- including at PC Week and the IDG News Service -- back when the web was just getting under way, and even a little before. For CNET, he's written on topics from GPS to 5G, James Bond, lasers, brass instruments and music streaming services.
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  • 30 years experience at tech and consumer publications, print and online. Five years in the US Army as a translator (German and Polish).
Jon Skillings
2 min read
The DirecTV Now logo on a smartphone screen.

CBS and AT&T are in a contract dispute that affects subscribers of DirecTV Now and other services.

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

CBS television channels won't be showing up on the DirecTV service in cities from Boston to Los Angeles, as a deadline passed for CBS Corp. and AT&T to work out their differences.

CBS said Saturday that the blackout is hitting customers of DirecTV, DirecTV Now and AT&T U-Verse in 17 cities -- New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Tampa, Seattle, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore -- as well as more than 100 CBS stations and affiliates on DirecTV Now .

In addition, customers of DirecTV and DirecTV Now across the country have lost access to the CBS Sports Network. Meanwhile, the Smithsonian Channel has been removed from DirecTV.

The blackout stems from the expiration late Friday of a CBS-DirecTV deal signed in 2012, after the broadcaster and DirecTV owner AT&T failed to come to terms on a new carriage contract. (Disclosure: CBS Corp. is the parent of CNET.)

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"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," CBS said in a statement. "This is just the latest example in AT&T's long and clear track record of letting its consumers pay the price for its aggressive tactics to get programmers to accept below market terms."

AT&T took issue with CBS' promotion of its own online service.

"CBS is a repeat blackout offender," AT&T said in a statement. "CBS continues to demand unprecedented increases even as CBS advances content on CBS All Access instead of on its local broadcast stations."

The dispute affects about 6.6 million subscribers of the DirecTV and U-Verse platforms, according to Variety.

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