Q. Is there anything new between Dish and the Fox regional sports channels. Will they ever come back or are we all being naive Nellies to think they will? — Penny, Scottsdale, Arizona.
Penny, Dish (and its live streaming service, Sling TV) have been missing the Fox regional sports channels, which are owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, and will soon be renamed Bally Sports, since July 2019 when their carriage pact expired. In the nearly 21 months since, there have been occasional hints of hope that the two sides were amenable to a settlement. However, nothing has occurred to suggest a deal is imminent.
But there is something new that might shed light on when and how the impasse will be settled.
As you may know, Dish has a contract with Sinclair to carry its 100-plus local network affiliates, and it’s set to expire this year. Both Dish and Sinclair have hinted that the negotiations for the local channels would include the regional sports channels as well. Sinclair has even said it won’t allow Dish to offer the locals without carrying the sports channels.
But when will Dish’s agreement to carry the local channels expire, and possibly, trigger a solution for the regional sports nets?
Until now, we didn’t know an exact date, or even an estimated time. Both companies would only infer that it would be sometime in 2021.
However, Multichannel News reports this week that Wells Fargo Securities analyst Steven Cahall has issued a note to his clients saying the agreement will end this summer. If that’s true, it’s likely we won’t see a deal between Dish and Sinclair before baseball season begins in April, or during the last few months of the NBA and NHL seasons.
Of course, it’s possible the companies could negotiate a deal weeks, or months, in advance of when Dish’s contract to carry the locals expires. But that’s not the way Dish usually operates. The company is famous for using deadlines, and sometimes, channel blackouts, as leverage to get better terms.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation and report back here if anything changes.
Until then, happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann