Q. With all the blackouts on Dish, which one do you think will end first? I’m hoping for the Sinclair Fox sports channels because I love sports, but what do you think? I really wish they would settle these things. — Mark, Scottsdale, Arizona.
Mark, Dish is now without HBO and Cinemax, 21 Fox regional sports channels (owned by Sinclair), Altitude Sports, which airs Denver Nuggets games, three Sunbeam Broadcasting-owned local stations, two local stations owned by Circle City Broadcasting, 28 Mission Broadcasting-owned local stations, and 14 local stations managed by Cox Media, but owned by Apollo Global Management, an equity firm.
Whew. That’s seven different fee fights which have led to long-term blackouts, some as long as two years, as in the case of HBO and Cinemax.
For Dish subscribers, the disputes are frustrating and probably hard to understand. Dish says by refusing to yield to programming fee demands, they can keep prices reasonable. But when your favorite channel isn’t on — and it feels like it may never return — you have to wonder if the juice is worth the squeeze.
However, on the positive side, Dish has settled fee fights this year with the NFL and Scripps. So it can happen, right?
To your question, I think a Sinclair deal is possible, although Dish’s customer service team tends to cast a negative tone every time it’s asked about it. At some point soon, and we don’t know exactly when, Dish will have to renegotiate its contract for Sinclair’s 100+ local stations. That deal would likely include the 21 regional sports channels because Sinclair would be hesitant to approve it unless it did.
But, of course, Dish might decide that it can do without the Sinclair locals despite the consumer unrest that would trigger. So you never know.
If I had to pick one Dish dispute that might end relatively soon, I would say its fee fight with the 14 local Cox Media/Apollo stations.
Dish is involved in a separate negotiation with Cox Media/Apollo regarding 18 other stations it owns, and the companies have signed three temporary agreements this month to thwart a blackout. That’s a good sign that Dish and Cox/Apollo are getting closer to finding common ground, which could mean a deal for the 14 stations as well as the group of 18.
Mark, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann