Q. I lost my Fox station on Dish because the owner and Dish can’t get their act together and sign a new deal. Or something like that. Do you know when this silly argument will end? Will it be just a few days? When will get my Fox station back? — Clara, Little Rock. 

Clara, Dish last Friday night lost around 20 Mission Broadcasting-owned local stations in 18 markets due to a fee fight between the companies. The cities affected include Little Rock (Fox), Amarillo (Fox), Lubbock (ABC) and Abilene, Texas (NBC), among others.

Mission claims that it offered Dish an extension in their old pact, but that the satcaster rejected it and pulled its signals. Dish, of course, disputes that by saying Mission pulled the stations after Dish refused to pay what it regards as an excessive carriage fee.

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It’s usually impossible to determine what the truth is in these carriage disputes, and this one is no different. But what is clear is that the companies seem to be far apart.

In fact, I fear that this blackout could last for months rather than days.

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Dish has a history of playing hardball in these negotiations, particularly with a smaller broadcaster like Mission whose audience is relatively small. The satcaster simply doesn’t believe many subscribers will drop their service because of the blackout. And whatever revenue is lost due to defecting customers, it will be made up by not paying carriage fees to Mission during the dispute.

So, Clara, I wish I could be more hopeful. But I think you might need to invest in a TV antenna if you stay with Dish. 

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— Phillip Swann