With such great shows as Fargo returning on FX, and the NBA and NHL playoffs commencing, it’s a terrible time to lose your favorite shows due to fee fights between the channels and pay TV providers.
But two major pay TV operators are currently embroiled in relatively lengthy blackouts caused by carriage disputes while another could lose more than 20 top channels anytime now.
Here is a rundown of the three major programming battles ongoing, and their likelihood of an imminent resolution.
1. Dish vs. Hearst
We’re on day 44 of the impasse that has left Dish viewers without network affiliates in 26 Hearst markets.
Dish has gone radio-silent since the early days of the dispute while Hearst has been quiet since posting a scathing attack on the satcaster at its station web sites more than two weeks ago.
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Normally, fee fights get resolved soon after the two companies stop blaming each other in public. But the relatively long period of quiet here is a bit disconcerting and suggests the companies are truly at loggerheads.
No single event, such as the NBA playoffs on ABC, or the March Madness basketball tournament on CBS, seems to have had an impact on the negotiations, which is a bad sign. Companies involved in fee fights often are more likely to compromise a few days before a must-see show or sporting event.
This fight may last for quite awhile.
2. DIRECTV vs Louisiana Television Broadcasting
On April 7, DIRECTV lost two ABC affiliates due to a fee fight with their owner, the Louisiana Television Broadcasting. The stations: KRGV-TV, the ABC station in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas market, and WBRZ-TV, the ABC station in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
There was initial finger-pointing by both sides, but almost nothing since. So I think this one could be resolved relatively soon.
3. Charter vs. Fox
Fox is threatening to pull FX (home of Fargo; season three begins on April 19), National Geographic, the Fox Sports channel, the Fox-owned regional sports channels, and Fox Deportes, from Charter if the two companies do not reach a new carriage agreement. (The old one has expired.)
Every day last week, Fox posted a warning on its web site, KeepMyNets.com, that Charter subscribers could lose the channels that day. But then the programmer extended the deadline by one day, every day.
Now KeepMyNets.com simply says the channels could be removed without giving a specific day.
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It appears that Fox is doing everything possible to avoid a blackout, which is a good sign. I can’t predict there won’t be an impasse, but I am hopeful.
— Phillip Swann