DIRECTV Files Conspiracy Suit Against Nexstar for Illegally Colluding with Mission & White Knight Broadcasting

DIRECTV Files Conspiracy Suit Against Nexstar for Illegally Colluding with Mission & White Knight Broadcasting

DIRECTV today took a stand for its customers by mounting a legal challenge against a conspiracy among three broadcasters to illegally increase content costs for free over-the-air TV.  The fees distributors pay for permission to offer their customers local broadcast stations have soared more than 5,000% in the past 17 years and is the single largest source of rising costs facing video consumers today.  When any distributors resist extreme rate increases, Nexstar and other broadcast giants act as a gateway to black out key content from consumers living within any regions they are exclusively licensed to serve, and levy far higher tolls to bring that programming back.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charges America’s largest broadcaster Nexstar Media Group with violating federal antitrust law by engaging in an illegal conspiracy with Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting to manipulate, raise and fix the prices of so-called retransmission consent fees that DIRECTV must pay to offer ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX local stations. The trio’s unlawful price-fixing conspiracy has already resulted in 27 local stations remaining blacked out to several hundreds of thousands of DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM, and U-verse consumers spanning 25 cities from Albany to Albuquerque and Billings to Baton Rouge beginning Oct. 7, 2022.

The DIRECTV suit calls out in detail how Nexstar utilizes Mission and White Knight to skirt FCC station ownership caps and other federal laws through collusive retransmission consent negotiations with “sidecar” station groups that it manages. Nexstar owns overlapping stations with White Knight and Mission in every one of the affected markets (see below), and the suit charges both White Knight and Mission allow their respective retransmission consent negotiations to be overseen, administered and subject to the approval of Nexstar in direct violation of applicable laws.

“Mission and White Knight are now unlawfully coordinating with Nexstar to raise prices and extract supracompetitive retransmission consent fees from DIRECTV in ‘overlap’ DMAs—those markets where both Nexstar and either Mission or White Knight each own a Big-4 station,” DIRECTV states. “To accomplish this unlawful and anticompetitive aim, Mission and White Knight have entered into an agreement in which they have effectively relinquished decision-making authority to Nexstar.”

Among its several other examples, the suit argues that the trio routinely share confidential rates and other financial information through a single agent who can’t keep the details of one contract straight from another, closely align their respective blackout dates, and duplicate their public responses to the media to manipulate viewers and betray the public trust once they unilaterally pull their station signals.

Legal record of this case is available at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Read the redacted complaint here

Stay up to date on how we’re fighting to protect our customers from rising programming costs at TVPromise.com

Current List of Black Outs

Here are the individual stations, networks, and communities currently blacked out by Mission’s and White Night’s ongoing retransmission consent conspiracy with Nexstar, as well as the Nexstar-owned stations in each of those same DMAs. 

Note: Stations Currently Down are in red. Nexstar Stations in Same Markets are in bold. 

Nielsen DMA

Station

Network

STATION OWNER

Abilene, TX

KTAB

CBS

Nexstar Media

Abilene, TX

KRBC

NBC

Mission Broadcasting

Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY

WTEN

ABC

Nexstar Media

Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY

WXXA

FOX

Mission Broadcasting

Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM

KRQE

CBS

Nexstar Media

Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM

KRQE-D2

FOX

Nexstar Media

Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM

KWBQ

CW

Mission Broadcasting

Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM

KASY

MNT

Mission Broadcasting

Amarillo, TX

KAMR

NBC

Nexstar Media

Amarillo, TX

KCIT

FOX

Mission Broadcasting

Baton Rouge, LA

WBRL-CD

CW

Nexstar Media

Baton Rouge, LA

WGMB

FOX

Nexstar Media

Baton Rouge, LA

WVLA

NBC

White Knight Broadcasting

Billings, MT

KSVI

ABC

Nexstar Media

Billings, MT

KHMT

FOX

Mission Broadcasting

Burlington, VT

WFFF

FOX

Nexstar Media

Burlington, VT

WVNY

ABC

Mission Broadcasting

Davenport, IA-Rock Island, IL-Moline, IL

WHBF

CBS

Nexstar Media

Davenport, IA-Rock Island, IL-Moline, IL

KGCW

CW

Nexstar Media

Davenport, IA-Rock Island, IL-Moline, IL

KLJB

FOX

Mission Broadcasting

Erie, PA

WJET

ABC

Nexstar Media

Erie, PA

WFXP

FOX

Mission Broadcasting

Evansville, IN

WEHT

ABC

Nexstar Media

Evansville, IN

WTVW

CW

Mission Broadcasting

Joplin-Pittsburg, KS

KSNF

NBC

Nexstar Media

Joplin-Pittsburg, KS

KODE

ABC

Mission Broadcasting

Lansing, MI

WLNS

CBS

Nexstar Media

Lansing, MI

WLAJ

ABC

Mission Broadcasting

Lansing, MI

CW

CW

Mission Broadcasting

Little Rock-Pine Bluff, AR

KARZ

MNT

Nexstar Media

Little Rock-Pine Bluff, AR

KARK

NBC

Nexstar Media

Little Rock-Pine Bluff, AR

KASN

CW

Mission Broadcasting

Little Rock-Pine Bluff, AR

KLRT

FOX

Mission Broadcasting

Lubbock, TX

KLBK

CBS

Nexstar Media

Lubbock, TX

KAMC

ABC

Mission Broadcasting

Monroe, LA-El Dorado, AR

KARD

FOX

Nexstar Media

Monroe, LA-El Dorado, AR

KTVE

NBC

Mission Broadcasting

Odessa-Midland, TX

KMID

ABC

Nexstar Media

Odessa-Midland, TX

KPEJ

FOX

Mission Broadcasting

Providence, RI-New Bedford, MA

WPRI

CBS

Nexstar Media

Providence, RI-New Bedford, MA

CW

CW

Mission Broadcasting

Providence, RI-New Bedford, MA

WNAC

FOX

Mission Broadcasting

Rockford, IL

WQRF

FOX

Nexstar Media

Rockford, IL

WTVO

ABC

Mission Broadcasting

Rockford, IL

MNT

MNT

Mission Broadcasting

Shreveport, LA

KSHV

MNT

Nexstar Media

Shreveport, LA

KTAL

NBC

Nexstar Media

Shreveport, LA

KMSS

FOX

Mission Broadcasting

Springfield, MO

KRBK

FOX

Nexstar Media

Springfield, MO

KOZL

MNT

Nexstar Media

Springfield, MO

KOLR

CBS

Mission Broadcasting

Terre Haute, IN

WTWO

NBC

Nexstar Media

Terre Haute, IN

WAWV

ABC

Mission Broadcasting

Tyler-Longview, TX

KETK

NBC

Nexstar Media

Tyler-Longview, TX

KFXK

FOX

White Knight Broadcasting

Utica, NY

WFXV

FOX

Nexstar Media

Utica, NY

WUTR

ABC

Mission Broadcasting

Wichita Falls, TX-Lawton, OK

KJBO-LP

MNT

Nexstar Media

Wichita Falls, TX-Lawton, OK

KFDX

NBC

Nexstar Media

Wichita Falls, TX-Lawton, OK

KJTL

FOX

Mission Broadcasting

Wilkes Barre-Scranton, PA

WBRE

NBC

Nexstar Media

Wilkes Barre-Scranton, PA

WYOU

CBS

Mission Broadcasting

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