TV Answer Man, I heard that the Pac 12 is suing Dish. Do you know what that is about? And could it mean that Dish and Sling TV won’t carry the Pac 12 Network? — Jerald, Encino, California.

Jerald, let’s take the second question first. As of this morning, the Pac 12 Network channels are still on both Dish and Sling TV. But a recent lawsuit filed by the Pac 12 Network against Dish makes you wonder how long that will last.

Jon Wilner, a reporter for the San Jose Mercury, writes that the sports channel last week sued the satcaster for withholding carriage fees and violating the terms of their agreement.

The Pac 12 Network says the contract requires that the channel produce a certain number of live games, which it wasn’t able to do during the Covid-interrupted 2020 season. But the channel alleges that after Dish accepted its offer for a 2020 season refund, the satcaster then demanded more money back for the previous two seasons.

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When the Pac 12 Network balked, saying the request was “improper,” Dish began withholding licensing fees owed in 2021 and 2022, according to the lawsuit.

Wilner writes that the channel is now seeking damages and injunctive relief. (The lawsuit was filed October 6 in U.S. District Court in Colorado where Dish’s headquarters is located.)

The article says the financial terms of the contract, and reasons for why Dish requested more refunds, are redacted in the suit. Dish refused to comment for the story, Wilner writes.

Dish, which is run by arguably the industry’s most contentious negotiator, Charlie Ergen, has been involved in numerous carriage disputes over the years, sometimes leading to lengthy channel blackouts. But the Pac 12 Network scrap is unusual because the Pac 12 channels remain on the air although the programmer says it’s not being paid.

The TV Answer Man will monitor this fee fight and report back here if anything significant changes.

Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann