Q. I lost my ABC station here in the Baltimore area and I have Dish. It’s been nearly a month since it happened. Is there anything new in this fight. Both sides seem very greedy if you ask me. — Wayne, Lutherville, Maryland.
Wayne, Dish on July 25 lost approximately 60 local network affiliates in 42 markets due to a fee fight with their owner, Scripps. The markets affected include New York, Milwaukee, Phoenix, San Diego, Corpus Christi, Texas, and Baltimore where your local ABC affiliate, WMAR-TV, is located. You can see a complete list of the Scripps stations here.
I thought the dispute might last only a week or two because the two sides on July 24 extended the old agreement by 24 hours so they could continue negotiating before it expired. That’s usually a sign that they are close to a deal.
But they did not sign a new agreement, leading to the blackout which has now lasted a month.
To your question, there is nothing substantially new, at least as far as we know. Dish has maintained in social media posts that Scripps rejected its offer to further extend the old pact to keep the channels on while negotiations continued.
Hey Michael. DISH offered to extend the contract so that viewers would no be impacted but Scripps Media Inc. refused this offer. Scripps Media Inc.has been on a station-buying spree and are asking for an unreasonable rate increase, nearly 250% of the f… https://t.co/v3zg4fczbB
— DISH Answers (@dish_answers) August 24, 2020
Scripps has not commented directly on that allegation, although broadcasters don’t often allow their channels to stay on when an old agreement expires. That would reduce their leverage in the talks. Instead, Scripps has encouraged its Dish viewers to seek a different pay TV provider.
Hi, Dan: We hear you – we know you rely on us, and we really appreciate how much you value your local stations. Believe us, we want this to end quickly, too! In the meantime, you can find ways to view us without Dish by visiting https://t.co/jPTuxJC13t.
— The E.W. Scripps Co. (@EWScrippsCo) August 25, 2020
I still think this fight will end sooner rather than later. But Dish has a well-earned reputation for playing hardball in carriage battles so you never know.
Meanwhile, Dish has five other blackout battles, including one with another local broadcaster, Apollo. There’s no sign that they will end soon, either.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation, and report back here if and when something changes.
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann