Dish tonight has lost 164 local stations in 120 markets due to a carriage dispute with their owner, Nexstar Media Group. WGN America has also been removed.
“We made a fair offer to keep Nexstar stations available to our customers, but Nexstar rejected it,” said Brian Neylon, group president of Dish. “Earlier today, we offered to extend the current contract and hold subscribers harmless while negotiations continue — once at 11:53am MST and again at 3:11pm MST — but Nexstar never responded. We don’t understand why Nexstar insists on prioritizing greed above American viewers, many of whom rely on local programming for their news and entertainment, especially during this global pandemic.”
Nexstar countered that “Dish is refusing to reach a new distribution agreement allowing the satellite television behemoth the right to continue airing Nexstar’s highly-rated programming,”
Nexstar posted a notice last week at station web sites alerting Dish subscribers that they could lose their signals tonight by 8 p.m. ET., That notice is still up as of 7:21 p.m. ET, but both sides say they have reached an impasse.
“The broadcaster has blacked out its stations from DISH customers to gain negotiation leverage in an effort to line its wallet with viewers’ hard-earned money — a tactic it used last year against DirecTV and AT&T U-verse,” Dish says in a press release.
The Nexstar notice charges that Dish has refused all ‘fair value’ offers to continue carrying its channels.
“(The station) and DISH have a contract that allows them to carry our programming to you,” the notice states. “(The station) presented a proposal for fair value, based on the importance and value our programming brings to our viewers. Despite our tireless efforts, DISH has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult. You’ve might have seen them do this before. They will tell you it’s for your benefit, but don’t believe it. Our offer is fair. And now they hold you the subscriber hostage. It’s not right.”
Dish, which is now engaged in several other carriage disputes that have led to channel blackouts, says the Nexstar blackout will be the largest in TV history.
Nexstar has local stations in such large markets as Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Denver. The broadcaster’s web site says its local stations reach 115 markets representing 63 percent of all U.S. TV households. To see a list of the Nexstar stations, click here.
This is the second major blackout of a satellite TV service this week. DIRECTV last night lost 60 Tegna-owned local stations in a separate dispute.
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— Phillip Swann