Dish tonight lost approximately 60 local network affiliates in 42 markets due to a fee fight with their owner, Scripps.
The Scripps stations posted a notice at their web sites alerting viewers that they were no longer available on Dish. Programmers and pay TV providers usually fight over how much the latter should pay the former in carriage fees. But Scripps said in a statement that this dispute is over “other distribution terms” rather than rates. Scripps did not elaborate on what that means.
“Without an agreement in place, DISH subscribers are now missing out on our stations’ essential news, weather and entertainment programming,” Brian Lawlor, president of Local Media for Scripps, said in a press release. “DISH’s refusal to negotiate to a fair agreement is preventing its customers from accessing pressing news during a global pandemic, a period of social unrest, an active political year and severe weather season for many parts of our country.
“Our impasse, after five months of discussions, is not about the rates DISH pays us but their inability to agree on other distribution terms. We hope DISH will recognize the importance of our programming to its customers and our viewers and help us to resolve this dispute.”
As of Saturday night, Dish had not issued a comment on the Scripps blackout.
Update: Dish has released the following statement:
“To be clear, Scripps chose to black out its own viewers. We offered multiple extension options to keep the channels up while we continue to work toward reaching a deal during these unprecedented times, but they refused,” said Andy LeCuyer, DISH senior vice president of programming.
He added: “After months of refusing to negotiate, Scripps Media Inc. made a take-it-or-leave-it offer just minutes before expiration. In an effort to minimize the impact to consumers, DISH continues to be open to negotiating with Scripps to come to a fair deal. The channels could come back today if Scripps would allow it, and we can restore the channels immediately if they give us the green light. While the nation faces the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and Hurricane Hanna makes landfall, viewers need access to their local news and programming. On behalf of customers, we ask Scripps to stop punishing its own viewers so we can focus on reaching a fair deal.”
The satcaster has had a tough week, losing 14 Apollo Global Management local stations on Wednesday.
The Scripps stations are in such markets as New York, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Phoenix, San Diego, and Corpus Christi, Texas, which could be affected by Hurricane Hanna. To see a complete list, click here.
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— Phillip Swann