WSOC and AT&T agreed on one thing Sunday: It’s a shame U-verse and DirecTV viewers lost access to the Charlotte ABC affiliate on New Year’s Day.
But by the end of the day the drama was over. Station owners Cox Media group announced Sunday night it had reached a deal with the two services and that signals would be returning soon.
Earlier in the day, each side blamed the other for the failure to agree on a 2017 contract, leading to WSOC (Channel 9) and WAXN (Channel 64) going off the air at 3 a.m.
Joe Pomilla, WSOC-TV’s vice president and general manager accused the providers of refusing to pay reasonable rates that would support local programming.
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“Producing and broadcasting high-rated, top-quality programming is very expensive,” the station said in an online Q&A. “WSOC-TV invests hundreds of thousands of dollars in our local news, weather and emergency programming. Without the fees from cable and satellite operators, this would not be possible.”
Josh Gelinas, communications director for AT&T, countered that Cox Broadcasting, which owns the stations, is demanding “a significant increase in fees just to allow the same families to keep watching shows that remain available for free over-the-air on channels 9 and 64 and that ABC typically streams for free at abc.com and to fans using the WatchABC app.”
The WSOC Q&A notes that the station has reached agreements with every other major cable and satellite company, including DISH and Comcast. “Naturally, we cannot give away our product for less than it is worth,” the statement says.
AT&T noted that Cox has been involved in brief shutdowns during contract negotiations in the past, “so we appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably.”