A 2023 DirecTV logo. A 2023 DirecTV logo.

If there’s a year that has 12 months, it must mean that a cable or pay TV provider will have a carriage dispute with a broadcaster. The latest one involves DirecTV and Cox. And it couldn’t come at a worse time, as the Super Bowl and a few other significant events are coming in February.

Cord Cutters News reports that Cox may pull its stations off DirecTV as soon as February 2 if a new carriage agreement isn’t reached. In a terse press release, Cox Media Group pleaded with DirecTV to keep its stations on DirecTV, DirecTV, and U-Verse. Cox owns 12 stations in nine markets, including Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, and Seattle. Of those, Cox has CBS affiliates in Dayton and Seattle. (They also operate a CBS affiliate in Jacksonville, but have confirmed it is not impacted here.)

If the stations are pulled and an agreement can’t be reached, it means that events like the Super Bowl and the Grammy Awards won’t be seen in those cities.

Cord Cutters News states that there have been a total of 83 blackouts since 2020. In its statement, Cox accused DirecTV of being “anti-consumer” and engaging in a repeated practice of dropping “hundreds of local stations over just the past few months.” The statement goes even further:

DIRECTV’s strategy stands to threaten the viability of local journalism at a time when broadcast TV stations are often the last source of local news, emergency information, and consumer protection left in their communities. While DIRECTV aggressively tries to undermine the value of local broadcast stations, they know the truth. Local broadcast stations, including CMG’s stations, are consistently the most popular channels on DIRECTV’s lineup.

If DIRECTV continues to refuse carriage of CMG stations on a reasonable and fair basis, more than one million households could be negatively impacted. CMG continues to work in good faith to try to negotiate a new retransmission consent agreement with DIRECTV. The current agreement expires on Feb. 2 at 12 a.m. EDT.

For its part, DirecTV says it’s attempting to reach a reasonable agreement for its subscribers.

DIRECTV is working with Cox Media Group, the owner of 12 local broadcast stations spanning nine metro areas, to reach a new agreement before our expiration on February 2 that will align the value and quality customers receive with the price they pay. Our request to Cox Media Group is simple, don’t force your viewers who are our customers, to pay an unwarranted rate increase for ‘free’ news, sports and entertainment that is widely available on local station websites, through an over-the-air digital antenna and direct-to-consumer streaming platforms.

The whole issue is over retransmission fees. DirecTV says the model of paying broadcasters fees is broken, so it’s proposing a new system that allows the companies to set their own rates and charge customers directly so they can choose to pick up local stations if they so choose. This was one of the reasons why DirecTV and Tegna had an extended blackout, which was recently resolved. Tegna rebuffed DirecTV’s proposal, and there’s no reason to believe that Cox will accept it either.

In the meantime, customers are once again left in the middle, holding the bag while the two companies argue over money. As the Super Bowl gets closer, we’ll see if this gets resolved or if subscribers have to find alternate methods to watch the big game.

[Cord Cutters News]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.