TV Answer Man, it’s good news that Dish and Sinclair have agreed to an extension in their negotiations, right? That means they are working on a long term deal that will keep our channels on all the time, right? Tell me I am right, please. — Gerri, Arlington, Virginia. 

Gerri, Sinclair and Dish last night agreed to a “short-term” extension in their current carriage pact that will allow Sinclair’s 112 local TV stations to stay in Dish’s lineup for now, according to Sinclair General Counsel David Gibber.

“We have agreed to a short-term extension with Dish to continue conversations. We will continue to update our viewers as this develops. Sinclair stands willing to continue to negotiate in good faith and to enter into a longer extension to allow for the continued carriage of our channels to Dish subscribers,” Gibber said in a statement.

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This is good news for Dish subscribers considering Sinclair said a week ago that it was “unlikely” it could reach any agreement with Dish prior to August 16 when the current pact was scheduled to expire. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the two companies will soon agree to a several-year extension.

The Dish-Sinclair fee fight is more complicated than most. In addition to the 112 local stations, Dish and Sinclair are discussing whether the satcaster will resume carrying Sinclair’s 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks (RSNs). Dish has been without them since July 2019 due to a separate carriage battle.

It’s possible Dish and Sinclair are discussing a new structure that could permit the former to carry some, but not all, the sports channels. Or they could be negotiating a separate contract for the local channels and not include the sports nets at all although Sinclair has said repeatedly that both must be included.

The discussions get even more involved when you include Sling TV, the Dish-owned live streaming service. There’s precedent to suggest Dish could agree to carry both the Sinclair locals and sports channels, but not Sling. When Dish recently added HBO to its lineup after a 30-month blackout, it did not add the premium channel to Sling.

So as you can see, Dish and Sinclair have lots to talk about, which could explain the short-term extension. And it’s important to note that short-term extensions sometimes lead to channel blackouts because one or both companies feel the talks are no longer fruitful.

But the fact that the companies are still talking is encouraging.

The TV Answer Man will report back here today if anything significant changes in this situation. Until then, happy viewing, and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann