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DirecTV And AT&T Customers Lose Access to CBS in Compensation Dispute

DirecTV customers across the Southland have lost access to CBS and KCAL indefinitely in a fee dispute between CBS Corp. and AT&T, which owns the satellite provider.
   KCAL is owned by CBS. The blackout also affects the Smithsonian Channel and the CBS Sports Network. Beginning minutes after 11 p.m. Friday, when a contract between the two sides expired, the following message appeared on the screens of DirecTV viewers who selected either channel:
   ``CBS has removed this channel from your lineup despite our request to keep it available to you. We share your frustration and regret any inconvenience.
   ``As an alternative, you can watch this station using the Locast app.
... You can also watch some CBS programming on CBS.com or with a subscription
to the CBS All Access App.''
   The blackout affects more than a dozen cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, New York and Chicago. The outage also effects AT&T Uverse and DirecTV Now subscribers.
   ``After months of negotiations, CBS is simply looking to receive fair value for its popular programming,'' network officials said Friday. ``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 granted an extension of its current deal with AT&T earlier this month in order to try to reach an agreement without consumers being put in the middle. We also offered a 30-day extension yesterday to work towards a fair deal for all parties -- most importantly, our loyal viewers -- but AT&T declined that additional extension.''
   The statement went on to say, ``... While we continue to negotiate in good faith and hope that AT&T agrees to fair terms soon, the loss of CBS programming could last a long time.''
   Representatives for AT&T said the company was ``willing to continue to negotiate and also offered to pay CBS an unprecedented rate increase'' and accused CBS of being a ``repeat blackout offender'' as the two sides traded blame for the impasse.
   ``...it has become clear to us that CBS is intent on blacking out any home that chooses to receive cable or satellite service, antagonizing its most loyal viewers,'' an AT&T statement said.
   The two sides are thought to be far apart on a new fee structure, with DirecTV feeling the pinch from streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, YouTubeTV and Amazon that offer programming for cheaper monthly rates.

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