Dish tonight could lose 64 local network affiliates in 51 markets (CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC and the CW) in a carriage dispute with their owner, Tegna.
The broadcaster has posted viewer alerts at station web sites saying the channels could be removed at 9 p.m. ET tonight if the two sides don’t reach a new agreement. Tegna has also established a web site, KeepmylocalTV.com, to state its position on the dispute.
“We are committed to reaching a fair, market-based agreement with DISH based on the competitive terms we’ve used to reach deals with numerous other providers that reflect the current market. Thus far, DISH has refused to agree to such terms, which is why we have begun informing DISH customers that they may lose access to their local TEGNA station and our valuable programming,” a Tegna spokesperson said last night. “We hope that DISH is willing to negotiate a market-based deal before tomorrow night’s deadline, and doesn’t take away their customers’ local news, weather, sports and network programs.”
Dish countered that Tegna is requesting a “massive increase to nearly a billion dollars in fees” for its stations and is “using viewers as a bargaining chip in their negotiations.”
“Businesses should have the opportunity to be profitable, but there’s a big difference between running a profitable business and taking blatant advantage of consumers,” said Brian Neylon, group president of Dish TV. “Tegna is demanding an unreasonable fee increase — an increase the programmer knows will directly impact its viewers.”
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.
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— Phillip Swann