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DirecTV Drops WLWT, 25 Other Hearst Markets

Negotiations continued Tuesday to restore WLWT-TV (Channel 5) to DirecTV, along with network affiliates in 25 other Hearst markets.

DirecTV and AT&T U-verse pulled the plug Jan. 1 on the Hearst stations when retransmission talks broke down. Hearst's contract expired at midnight Dec. 31.

Braden Frantz, new Channel 5 president and general manager, in a media release said DirecTV was making "unreasonable demands" by "seeking to carry our stations at below-market rates."

Hearst had been warning viewers about a possible impasse since Dec. 27, MultiChannel News reported. Negotiations are continuing, said a Channel 5 spokesman.

"Following protracted negotiations, the efforts of Hearst Television, parent of WLWT, to achieve a new carriage agreement with DirecTV, reached an impasse, and, as a result, WLWT is now no longer being carried by DirecTV," Channel 5 announced Sunday in a released headlined "WLWT Working To Renew Carriage On DirecTV."

Frantz said in the release: "Hearst has a long history of successfully concluding agreements with cable companies and other satellite distributors with no disruption of service to viewers.  Unfortunately, the DirecTV negotiating team is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable given the significant investments we have made to deliver top tier programming to our viewers.”

“We regret the inconvenience DirecTV's demands have imposed on its subscribers, and we will keep you fully informed of developments.”

Frantz reminded viewers that Channel 5 can be received free over-the-air with an antenna, or from competing satellite or cable companies, if they want to pull the plug on DirecTV.

Greater Cincinnati viewers can research types of a TV antenna at this link, Frantz said.  He also said viewers could "contact DirecTV regarding the inconvenience caused by its unreasonable demands (by calling) DirecTV customer service at 1-800-531-5000."

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.