Q. As a Dish subscriber, the loss of my Fox regional sports channel that shows my home teams here in Phoenix has become unbearable. The Suns season is coming up soon and I really, really want to watch them. Is there any hope at all that Dish will come to a deal with Fox Sports? — Frank, Phoenix.
Frank, as you know, on July 26, both Dish and its live streaming service, Sling TV, lost 22 different Fox Sports regional channels (including your Fox Sports Arizona, which carries the games of the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Coyotes and Arizona Diamondbacks) due to a disagreement over how much they should pay Fox to carry them.
Since the blackout began, the dispute has become more complicated because Sinclair Broadcasting now owns the Fox regional sports channels. (In August, the broadcaster purchased them from Disney, which previously purchased them in from Fox.) Sinclair and Dish have engaged in multiple carriage battles in the past and they are both known for playing hardball at the negotiating table.
In addition, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has said publicly that it’s possible that his TV services will never carry the Fox regional sports channels again. That bleak forecast has been echoed by Dish and Sling customer service teams on Twitter and Facebook.
“We’re always willing to engage in proposals that are fair for our customers, but based on Sinclair’s offer, we haven’t reached a deal to bring FOX RSNs and YES back to Sling. At this time, we believe it’s unlikely that we will come to an agreement to restore this programming,”@slinganswers said on Twitter on October 6.
However, in the last week or so, the tone of the responses from Sling and Dish’s Twitter customer service teams has become more optimistic.
“Our team is working nonstop to get your channels back,” @Slinganswers wrote on October 10.
“We are working to reach a mutual agreement to restore the channels as soon as possible,” @Dishanswers tweeted yesterday.
Okay, I will acknowledge that this isn’t a major development. But it does offer some hope that Dish is more interested in a deal than it was perhaps a few weeks ago. The company is no longer suggesting the channels will never return.
So that is something. And, you did ask me if there’s some hope, right? Well, yes, there’s some hope. With the NHL season underway, and the NBA season starting in less than two weeks, it’s quite possible we will see a deal before month’s end.
That’s not a guarantee, of course. Just a hope.
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— Phillip Swann