Raycom Media and DirecTV have agreed to temporarily extend their current deal in order to prevent 54 stations belonging to Raycom from being blacked out on the satellite television platform. The extension of the deal will also offer uninterrupted coverage of the relief efforts currently being undertaken after Hurricane Harvey. A statement from Raycom said the temporary extension was aimed at ensuring its channels were available in the region most affected by Hurricane Harvey, Southeast Texas and surrounding areas.
“The power of local broadcasters to serve those in need is of critical importance in times like these. That’s why we offered an extension to DirecTV and we’re pleased they understood the importance of that local commitment and accepted,” said a statement from the president and chief executive officer of Raycom, Pat LaPlatney.
In the Hurricane Harvey efforts stations owned by Raycom media have raised more than $640,000. The stations continue to support the relief efforts via phone banks, public service announcements and news coverage. According to a study done by Research One, it has emerged that the leading source of information related to Hurricane Harvey is local television news.
Prior to the extension of the contract, Raycom Media had been warning viewers of the imminent service disruption. AT&T, which owns DirecTV, had earlier faced accusations that it had disrupted service for the stations owned by Raycom on the U-verse video platform so as to entice customers to turn to DirecTV. An offer for a DirecTV subscription was made to these customers. They were also encouraged to sign up for DirecTV Now.
In the second quarter of this fiscal year, AT&T lost approximately 195,000 customers who had signed up to U-verse and 156,000 customers who had signed up to satellite television. The telecommunications giant, however, gained 152,000 customers for its DirecTV Now service.
This comes at a time when consumers are increasingly turning to free-to-air reception as a way of cutting down on subscription costs. And providers, who risk losing add-on fees with the cancellation of local station packages, are looking for other ways to suit the needs of their customers. In the recent past Citadel Communications and DISH Network Corporation temporarily extended their present contract thus averting loss of signal for WLNE-TV, the local affiliate of ABC in Providence, Rhode Island. At the same time DISH Network Corporation started installing HD over-the-air-antennas at no cost to local subscribers who qualified in order to prevent service disruption.