Q. I saw yesterday that Dish made a deal with Scripps for all their local stations. But our local ABC station here in Atlanta is still blacked out. Why can they make a deal with Scripps but not our station? — Terri, Buckhead, Georgia.
Terri, as you note, Dish and Scripps yesterday signed a new carriage agreement allowing the broadcaster’s 60 local network affiliates to return to the satcaster’s lineup after a six-week blackout.
So if Dish can make a deal with Scripps, which has 60 stations, shouldn’t it be even easier to sign a new carriage pact with Apollo Global Management which has only 14?
That may sound logical, but the business of television is seldom logical, which is why Dish and Apollo are still at a standoff after a six-week blackout as well.
Let me explain.
There was greater pressure on Dish to settle with Scripps, although it took six weeks to do so. Scripps has stations in 42 markets, which means the blackout affected a large number of Dish subscribers who were getting increasingly upset. The NFL season starts this Thursday and some of those Scripps stations will carry the games.
But Apollo’s 14 stations, which are managed by Cox Media, are in just 10 markets, although some such as Boston, Seattle and Atlanta are sizable. (Note: Apollo has 14 stations in 10 markets because it owns two stations each in four markets. You can see the list of 14 stations here.)
That means a smaller number of Dish customers are blacked out compared to those in the Scripps markets. If Dish doesn’t settle with Apollo, the subscriber fallout is less. (Dish subscribers have been without the Apollo stations since July 22 when the two sides couldn’t reach a new agreement.)
In addition, Dish and Apollo are engaged in a lawsuit over whether Dish’s previous carriage agreement for the 14 stations was prematurely ended when Apollo bought them from Cox Enterprises last year. The legal battle heightens the tensions between the two and further complicates any negotiation.
So while it’s possible that Dish and Apollo reach an agreement sooner than later, it wouldn’t surprise me to see that impasse extending for several more weeks, at least.
Sorry, Terri. I will continue to monitor this situation, and report back here if and when anything changes.
Until then, happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann