TV Answer Man, I thought Dish’s fight with Sinclair was supposed to have a August 15 deadline. Did they settle? My local station is still on. Maybe I missed the news on your site? What’s the status with this? — Charles, Fairfax, Virginia.
Charles, Sinclair issued a statement earlier this month that said Dish was likely to lose its 112 local TV stations on August 16 when their carriage agreement expired. However, the two companies agreed to a one-week extension on that day, and John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reported last week that they signed yet another short-term deal that extends the current agreement to mid-September.
This latest extension is both good and bad news for Dish subscribers.
What’s the good news?
The decision to postpone a final decision a full month past the original August 16 deadline suggests that Dish and Sinclair are working hard to settle the dispute. As Dish subscribers know all too well, the satcaster has frequently walked away from the negotiating table when a carriage agreement first expires, triggering an immediate blackout. But in this case, Dish and Sinclair both seem committed to finding common ground to avoid any loss of channels. (The Sinclair local channels are still on Dish.)
The lengthy extension would also indicate that Dish and Sinclair are discussing adding back the latter’s 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks. (Dish has been without them since July 2019 due to a separate carriage dispute.) It shouldn’t take this long to reach an agreement just for the local channels.
That doesn’t mean that Dish will resume carrying all 19 RSNs (Regional Sports Networks), or any for that matter. But the extra month strongly suggests they are on the table, requiring a longer and more complicated negotiation.
(Note: Sling TV, the Dish-owned live streaming service, could also lose the Sinclair local channels in this fee fight. The streamer could also get the RSNs back in a new agreement, but it’s more likely that Dish will add them back rather than Sling. Dish is less likely to invest the programming money on Sling which generates significantly less revenue than the satellite service.)
What’s the bad news here?
The extension until mid-September means that Dish sports fans who were hoping for an August return of the RSNs will have to wait even longer. That’s particularly bad news for baseball fans wanting to watch the final month of the 2021 MLB pennant race. Bally Sports has the exclusive rights to the in-market broadcasts of numerous MLB teams.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation and report back here if any significant changes. Until then, happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann