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CBS Goes Dark on DISH


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DISH subscribers have lost access to CBS after negotiations for a new carriage agreement broke down.

CBS said in a statement that DISH had dropped the network and several other local television stations it owns in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Tampa, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. CBS Sports Network, Pop and the Smithsonian Channel have also gone dark on the DTH platform.

“Since 2013, DISH has dropped the signals of 29 different companies, representing nearly 400 television stations, clearly indicating that these tactics are commonplace for them,” CBS said in a statement. “This particular dispute is yet another example of the company punishing its subscribers instead of negotiating a fair carriage deal that reflects the current marketplace. And now, DISH subscribers are in jeopardy of being without CBS over the Thanksgiving holiday, which would mean they would miss CBS Sports’ NFL and SEC football coverage beginning Thursday, November 23, with the Thanksgiving Day game featuring the Los Angeles Chargers taking on the Dallas Cowboys, as well as Sunday’s NFL Doubleheader; and SEC Football on Friday and Saturday.”

DISH, meanwhile, is blaming CBS, saying the company “chose to black out DISH customers’ access to 28 local channels in 18 markets across 26 states. CBS is blocking consumers in an effort to raise carriage rates for local channels and gain negotiating leverage for unrelated cable channels, all with declining viewership on DISH.”

Warren Schlichting, DISH’s executive VP of marketing, programming and media sales, stated, “CBS is attempting to tax DISH customers on programming that’s losing viewers, tax DISH customers on programming available for free over the air, and tax DISH customers for content available directly from CBS. Our customers are clear: they don’t want to pay a CBS tax. It’s regrettable and unnecessary that CBS is bringing its greed into the homes of millions of families this Thanksgiving.”

DISH says it is offering digital over-the-air antennas at no cost so that customers in affected markets can watch CBS’s local broadcast channels for free. Eligible DISH customers can completely drop local channels from their programming package to save $10 a month. “Switching to OTA-delivered locals can unlock $120 savings annually for DISH customers,” Schlichting said. “Customers will see the local channels and show information for the most popular channels in the guide on the Hopper DVR, and can watch and record local channels using their DISH remote without switching inputs on the TV. We want to help customers with the choice to save money. DISH doesn’t save money, but consumers can.”

He continued, “On top of free availability with an antenna, the fact that CBS makes its content available a la carte on a streaming app has further eroded the value of its content for DISH and our customers.”

DISH maintains that CBS is asking for “significant price increases for local channels,” and that it is trying to “force bundle unrelated and low-performing cable channels (CBS Sports Network, Pop and Smithsonian Channel) at a premium.”

Schlichting added, “With DISH willing to grant an extension and a retroactive true-up on rates, CBS had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by leaving its channels up. Instead, CBS chose to turn its back on its public interest obligations to serve viewers. We are actively working to negotiate an agreement that promptly returns this content to DISH’s programming lineup.”

The platform is also calling for retransmission consent reform. “CBS is using its mix of local and national channels against viewers, abusing outdated laws to try to force consumers to pay more,” said Jeff Blum, DISH’s senior VP and deputy general counsel. “This greedy attempt to extort more money from our customers is one of the main reasons we—and our industry—are asking Congress to restore balance in the broadcaster-pay TV equation. We are asking lawmakers to reform outdated TV laws to give our customers the best viewing experience at an affordable price, without the threat of broadcaster blackouts.”



About Mansha Daswani

Mansha Daswani is the editor and associate publisher of World Screen. She can be reached on mdaswani@worldscreen.com.

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