For local AT&T U-verse subscribers, it's the blame game instead of tournament games.
AT&T and Raycom Media's inability to reach an agreement on retransmission rights late Wednesday kept those with U-Verse from watching WTOL-TV, Channel 11's broadcast Thursday of NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball championship tournament games through the cable service, as well as the station's other network and local programming.
Games blacked out on U-verse can be streamed via NCAA March Madness Live or and the NCAA March Madness Live app; tournament games available on TBS, TNT and truTV are not affected.
In a release e-mailed to The Blade on Thursday afternoon, AT&T said the hope is to return WTOL access to its Toledo customers’ lineups as soon as possible, but that such transmission restoration requires permission from the station's owner, Raycom Media, “since FCC rules grant WTOL exclusive control over whether that station remains available on U-verse.”
The release added: "We share our customers’ frustration because Raycom is deliberately preventing WTOL from reaching their homes until Raycom receives a significant increase in fees even though the same people can still watch its shows for free over-the-air on channel 11 and, typically, at cbs.com or using the CBS app.
“We have asked Raycom repeatedly to allow our customers to watch while we work this business matter out privately, but Raycom continues to refuse. Raycom has suspended its stations from AT&T and other providers’ customers before and also threatened to disconnect others.”
A message on WTOL's website from Raycom also expressed frustration over the situation, but blames the Raycom Media Station blackout on U-verse on AT&T.
“This inconvenience to viewers is part of a broader business strategy to convert AT&T U-verse customers to DirecTV, because a DirecTV subscription is more profitable. In fact, prior to merging with DirecTV, AT&T U-verse had zero disruptions due to retransmission consent negotiations. The ongoing blackout of Raycom Media is AT&T U-verse’s 5th service takedown since the merger.”
Neither side mentioned the state of negotiations, or if talks are ongoing.