Dish tonight said it has lost 64 local network affiliates in 53 markets (CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC and the CW) in a carriage dispute with their owner, Tegna.
The satcaster made the announcement tonight after Tegna last night began posting viewer alerts at station web sites that said the channels could be removed tonight.
“We made a fair offer to keep Tegna stations available to our customers, but Tegna rejected it, forcing the removal of its channels,” said Brian Neylon, Dish’s group president. “Tegna is looking to sell its stations to the higher bidder, and is simply trying to exploit DISH customers as a way to get the maximum price and further fatten their wallets.”
Neylon was referring to a Tegna statement last month acknowledging that it was accepting proposals to acquire the company.
The Dish executive added: “Tegna is demanding we pay for 100 percent of our subscribers in their markets, regardless of whether these subscribers receive or want Tegna’s programming. As one of the nation’s largest local station owners, they are more interested in increasing their bottom line by charging our customers more money than providing programming to viewers under fair terms.”
Tegna has not issued a statement on the blackout as of 8:40 p.m. ET tonight. The broadcaster yesterday established a web site, KeepmylocalTV.com, to state its position on the dispute, but it has not been updated since Dish’s announcement tonight.
Update: Tegna released this statement on Wednesday night:
“DISH has refused to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us based on the competitive terms we’ve used to reach deals with numerous other providers that reflect the current market. While DISH is one of our smaller distributors, we regret any inconvenience for any of our customers, and hope that DISH will come back to the table to get a deal done to return our valuable programming to their system.”
The Tegna stations are in such large markets as Washington, D.C., San Diego, Denver, Phoenix, Tampa, New Orleans, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, St. Louis as well as mid-size areas such as Austin, Texas, San Angelo, Texas, Macon, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida, among others. To see a complete list of the Tegna stations, click here.
Tegna was involved in a similar carriage dispute last December with DIRECTV, U-verse, and AT&T TV, now known as DIRECTV Stream, which led to a 19-day blackout before the companies settled. And Dish and Tegna had a carriage row in 2015 which triggered a two-day blackout before a long-term deal was signed. (And one in 2018 as well, but just for a few hours.)
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— Phillip Swann