Listen to this article

CHAMPAIGN — Central Illinois subscribers to AT&T’s satellite and cable TV services should once again be able to tune in to WCIA-TV and its affiliate stations without jumping through antenna hoops.

AT&T and Texas-based Nexstar Broadcasting jointly announced Thursday afternoon that they have entered into a new multi-year agreement for the cable provider to carry the stations.

WCIA and WCIX had been blacked out for area DirecTV and U-Verse subscribers since midnight July 3. The only other way for them to access the channels was via a digital TV antenna.

“Our customers want more choice and value, and we are pleased to deliver that through this new agreement with Nexstar and its many local stations,” said Rob Thun, senior vice president of content and programming for AT&T Communications.

“Nexstar’s longstanding commitment is to provide exceptional programming and service to the local communities we serve across the United States, and this new multi-year agreement will allow us to continue delivering our stations’ leading network and sports content as well as local news and other programming to AT&T subscribers in our markets,” stated Keith Hopkins, senior vice president of distribution for Nexstar Media Group Inc.

Nexstar has stations in 97 markets, including Champaign.

Neither AT&T nor Nexstar shared details of their agreement, but both apologized for the inconvenience to subscribers, some of whom were able to get discounts for their trouble.

DirecTV subscriber Bill Clary of Champaign said the blackout period was inconvenient, but he worked around the annoyance with a good old-fashioned pair of rabbit ears he bought at a garage sale.

“We were in Florida for two months in January and February, and Comcast lost the local CBS station. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those deals: DirecTV today, Comcast tomorrow, Dish another day,” he said of the contract showdown. “It’s probably going to be a continuing saga. Unfortunately, it seems to be coming out of our wallets.”


Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).