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Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

AT&T will lodge a formal complaint with regulators against television station owners that, the company says, are refusing to negotiate terms for channels to be carried by its subsidiary DirecTV, resulting in blackouts for viewers.

Why it matters: The Federal Communications Commission generally does not intervene in private negotiations between programmers and the pay-TV stations that carry their content. But regulators could get involved when there are claims, as AT&T is making here, that parties are acting in bad faith.

The details, according to a filing obtained by Axios:

  • AT&T's complaint is against 9 station owners with channels around the country, including network affiliates in places like Flint, Mich., and Mobile, Ala.
  • The channels have been unavailable on DirecTV and, AT&T said, ”in the midst of ongoing customer blackouts, the Station Groups still refuse to negotiate agreements that would permit AT&T to resume retransmission of these stations to customers across the country.”
  • “Notably, the ostensibly independent Station Groups all have deep ties to Sinclair [Broadcast Group],” said AT&T in its FCC complaint.

The big picture: There have been a number of disputes over the terms on which pay-TV providers like DirecTV or Comcast carry channels, a result of a television market that’s getting tighter as more people cut the cord.

  • AT&T itself almost blacked out Viacom channels earlier this year, before the two companies settled their dispute.
  • The alleged Sinclair connection is notable because the FCC previously effectively killed a proposed purchase of Tribune stations by the broadcaster, known for a conservative bent.

Go deeper

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor. The AG's office subsequently turned down the offer, saying it wants to conduct its own probe.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.