DirecTV subscribers will no longer be able to watch southern Maine’s ABC affiliate until a new agreement is reached, the station announced Sunday.

DirecTV stopped carrying WMTW-TV, Channel 8, at midnight Saturday after failing to reach a new carriage agreement with Hearst Television, WMTW’s parent company.

The impasse affected DirecTV customers in all 39 states where Hearst affiliates operate.

WMTW President and General Manager Dave Abel said in a written statement that Hearst Television usually reaches these types of agreements with cable companies and satellite providers without an interruption in service, but this time “protracted negotiations” led to a stalemate.

“Unfortunately, the DirecTV negotiating team is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable given the significant investments we have made to deliver top tier programming to our viewers,” Abel said. “We regret the inconvenience DirecTV’s demands have imposed on its subscribers, and we will keep you fully informed of developments.”

Abel said WMTW can still be viewed over the air by using a digital antennae, as well as on cable television and through other satellite carriers.

In a statement, DirecTV said it wants “to get WMTW back into our customers’ lineups and share their frustration. Hearst Television is preventing its local signals from reaching DIRECTV customers’ homes in 26 different cities, including Portland, unless Hearst receives a significant increase in fees just to allow those same families to watch shows available for free over-the-air and that the broadcast networks typically make available for free online and through new digital apps.”

DirecTV also said it believes that “business-to-business discussions are best conducted in a conference room and not in the public domain. We asked Hearst Television to allow our customers to keep watching WMTW while we try to finalize this behind-the-scenes business agreement, but they … refused.”

Staff Writer Eric Russell contributed to this report.

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