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‘Big Brother’ and NFL fans rejoice: CBS blackout for AT&T and DirecTV customers ends

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Curtis Carroll, of West Sacramento, a digital antenna enthusiast, holds an RCA digital antenna as he demonstrates how to use one to get around the DirecTV blackout of KCRA Channel 3 in the Sacramento region.
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Curtis Carroll, of West Sacramento, a digital antenna enthusiast, holds an RCA digital antenna as he demonstrates how to use one to get around the DirecTV blackout of KCRA Channel 3 in the Sacramento region.

CBS Corp. has announced a multi-year agreement with AT&T, restoring channels to AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV customers in 17 markets including Sacramento after almost three weeks of blackout.

CBS announced the deal in a news release Thursday morning. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but CBS says the blackout is over: All national channels, local affiliates, CBS Sports Network and the Smithsonian Channel are returning Thursday to U-Verse, DirecTV and DirecTV Now customers.

Subscribers lost access to KOVR, better known as CBS 13, as well as other channels owned and operated by CBS Corp. – such as CW 31 (KMAX) in Sacramento, KPIX channel 5 in San Francisco, KCAL channel 9 in Los Angeles and even Smithsonian Channel and CBS Sports Network.

Contract talks had broken down and remained unresolved at the 11 p.m., July 19, deadline, at which time AT&T Corp. lost authorization to carry those channels to its 24 million customers.

The blackout left affected viewers scrambling for alternative options, which included digital antenna coverage and CBS’ All Access streaming service.

For customers unwilling or unable to use those alternatives, viewers went without popular programs such as “Big Brother,” “Good Day Sacramento,” “60 Minutes,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and CBS 13 local programming.

The end to the dispute comes just in time for football fans nationwide, with the first full slate of preseason games starting Thursday. Sacramento-area fans can now watch the 49ers, who host the Dallas Cowboys Saturday, at 5 p.m. on CBS 13.

The blackout also ended in time for San Francisco Giants fans, as the team’s Aug. 16 away game against the Arizona Diamondbacks will be shown on CW 31.

“CBS and AT&T regret any inconvenience to their customers and viewers and thank them for their patience,” CBS Corp. said in a statement.

As of early Thursday, blackouts for AT&T customers were still underway by for about 120 stations operated by Nexstar Media due to another contract dispute, with that blackout starting July 4. Access for AT&T U-verse and DirecTV customers has been cut to KSEE 24 and CBS 47 in the Fresno area, as well as KRON channel 4 in San Francisco.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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