WISC-TV: AT&T U-VERSE customers might need to consider switching providers

A generic TV remote

January 13, 2020 update: AT&T U-VERSE has removed WISC-TV from its channel lineup as of 7 p.m. January 8. This is the first time that a Morgan Murphy station has been removed from a channel lineup in more than four years. As in all cases, WISC-TV remains committed to good faith negotiations on a new, fair agreement to provide its popular programming to viewers in southern Wisconsin. Over the weekend, WISC-TV management continued to reach out to AT&T in order to try to resolve the programming outage. It’s become clear that AT&T U-VERSE customers may have to switch providers in order to quickly restore News 3 Now’s award-winning newscasts, NFL football playoff and top-rated CBS primetime shows. We understand this is frustrating for viewers and we are working to find a resolution as soon as possible. Please know we value your viewership and have long-term agreements with all other area cable and satellite providers. If you are looking for an alternative to AT&T, we have provided phone numbers and links to subscribe below.

Q. What’s going on and what is this negotiation about?

WISC-TV’s agreement with AT&T U-VERSE expired at 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 8. We, at WISC-TV continue to negotiate in good faith toward a fair deal. We regret that AT&T U-VERSE customers have currently lost access to News 3 Now local news as well as CBS programs such as 60 Minutes, NCIS, Young Sheldon and CBS sports including the NFL playoffs and NCAA basketball tournament. Both WISC-TV and AT&T U-VERSE have extensive data about the actual viewership of WISC-TV and all the other channels. There is no dispute that WISC-TV is one of the most viewed channels, if not the most viewed channel on AT&T U-VERSE system in this local area.

Q. How will this negotiation impact my monthly bill with AT&T U-VERSE?

This is completely up to AT&T U-VERSE, which has built a very profitable business by reselling programming provided by local stations and cable networks.

AT&T U-VERSE does not have to pass along any fee increase it may agree to with WISC-TV.

It is entirely up to AT&T U-VERSE what, if any, increase they pass through to you.

Q. Is WISC-TV making unreasonable demands of AT&T U-VERSE?

No. What we are asking is fair. WISC-TV has negotiated dozens of agreements with other cable and satellite providers, and AT&T U-VERSE has negotiated thousands of agreements. Both parties know what’s fair.

Our request for fair compensation from AT&T U-VERSE is in the same range as all of the other agreements we have negotiated and entered into in the local market. What we are asking for is far below the rates AT&T U-VERSE pays to national cable channels which are far less popular than WISC-TV, have far fewer viewers, and provide no local news or community service.

We are willing to make a very fair deal with AT&T U-VERSE similar to agreements we have with its competitors. If both parties can continue to negotiate, a deal can be reached.

We sincerely hope it doesn’t come to this, but if you value WISC programming, you may have to switch providers to continue watching us. We assure you that we will continue to negotiate in good faith with the goal of resolving this issue as soon as possible.

Q. What are my other options for getting WISC-TV programming?

All cable and satellite providers other than AT&T U-VERSE that carry WISC-TV will continue to do so without interruption. You may also use an antenna to receive our digital, high-definition signal over the air free of charge. If you’re interested in switching to another provider, your options include:

Q. How can WISC-TV charge AT&T U-VERSE for its programming when that programming is broadcast for free to over-the-air viewers?

Any individual can watch our programming for free with the use of an antenna but we don’t allow anyone to carry our programming and resell it to the public without fair compensation.
This right to negotiate for fair compensation has been part of Federal law since 1992 and was enacted in large part to help ensure that local TV stations would be able to enhance their local news and community service efforts. Our local news operation is by far the largest single expense of the television station, as it should be. We provide many hours of local news each week. Again, our agreements with operators such as AT&T U-VERSE support our ability to provide local news and other programming.

Q. What will we be missing if WISC-TV is not available on AT&T U-VERSE?

We produce 33 hours of local news each week covering the issues important to Madison and the surrounding communities. In addition, we broadcast CBS’ award-winning and highly-rated news, sports and entertainment programming including NFL football, NCAA basketball, 60 Minutes, Young Sheldon, NCIS and Survivor just to name a few.

Q. Won’t AT&T U-VERSE just add another CBS affiliate from another market?

In short, they can’t. WISC-TV is the local affiliate for this area in southern Wisconsin and federal law prevents them from doing so.