The agreement dispute could prevent some viewers from watching the NFL wild card game Saturday between the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Texans.
Local ABC affiliate WPBF is unavailable in Palm Beach County via DIRECTV, AT&T TV and AT&T U-Verse due to a retransmission agreement dispute between station owner Hearst Television and AT&T Communications.
The spat prevented viewers from seeing Saturday’s NFL wild card game between the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Texans if they have WPBF but not ESPN in their television package.
DIRECTV owner AT&T published a news release Saturday, saying it has “repeatedly asked Hearst to keep its stations available while the two sides secure a new retransmission consent agreement.”
It said Hearst pulled WPBF and stations across 26 markets from DIRECTV, AT&T TV and AT&T U-Verse.
WPBF acknowledged the dispute in a statement of its own posted to its website.
“We have made significant investments to deliver top tier programming to our viewers and DIRECTV is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable,” the statement said.
WPBF suggested that affected viewers could still watch the station’s programming via antenna, cable or another satellite provider.
“It’s unfortunate that Hearst has chosen to punish consumers and pull its stations during the most exciting time of the football season,” Jeff McElfresh, CEO of AT&T Communications, said in a statement. “We have already offered to pay Hearst stations retroactively whatever new fees we eventually agree to, but even that offer was rejected. Instead, they insist on using the NFL playoffs to harm sports fans and other consumers.