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DirecTV viewers will lose access to local NBC station

A DirecTV dish outside a home. Shannon Stapleton/Reuters/file

Boston-area subscribers of DirecTV will lose access on Saturday to the region’s local NBC station after the two companies failed to strike a new broadcast contract.

Sunbeam Television Corp., which owns WHDH-TV Channel 7 and WLVI-TV Channel 56, had been negotiating an agreement to continue broadcasting to local customers of DirecTV. But no settlement had been reached as of Friday afternoon, the companies said.

“Unfortunately, negotiations were not successful,” WHDH general manager Paul Magnes said.

DirecTV customers will stop receiving the channels through their satellite service after midnight Friday, but they will be able to access the stations for free over the air on Channel 7.1 and Channel 56.1.


DirecTV’s parent company, AT&T Inc., indicated that negotiations are continuing, but blamed Sunbeam for raising the fees that DirecTV must pay to carry the stations.

“Sunbeam is demanding a significant increase in their current fees just to let these same families keep watching shows that remain available for free over-the-air on channels 7 and 56 and often online at and,” AT&T spokeswoman Kate MacKinnon said. “Sunbeam has temporarily suspended its stations from our customers several times before, so we appreciate their patience as we work to resolve this matter quickly, reasonably, and with the least possible inconvenience.”

Sunbeam is already reeling from the decision by Comcast Corp., which owns NBC, to drop its affiliation with WHDH and create a new NBC Boston station starting in 2017. The company and its billionaire owner Ed Ansin fought the decision, but quickly lost in court.

Neither DirecTV nor Sunbeam said Friday whether their current fee dispute is related to that issue.

DirecTV and Sunbeam had a similar spat in 2012. Sunbeam sought an increase in fees, which led to a two-week blackout of its stations on DirecTV. The dispute was settled shortly before the 2012 Super Bowl.


To watch channels over the air, DirecTV customers will have to buy an antenna. DirecTV customers who want to watch the British Open golf tournament this weekend can tune to channels 701 to 705, or stream live coverage on Golf Live Extra and the NBC Sports app.

Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at