One TV blackout is over: Eight days after Dish Network lost access to 53 TV stations owned by Raycom Media in 36 markets across the U.S., the companies said late Friday they had agreed on a new retransmission contract.
Dish may be in for another major TV contract battle next month: Its eight-year deal with Walt Disney Co., covering ESPN, other cable nets and ABC-owned stations, expires Sept. 30. Dish chairman Charlie Ergen earlier this week said if companies cannot reach a deal, “we’ll part ways — simple as that.”
Separately, the feud between CBS and Time Warner Cable — which has blacked out the Eye for more than 3 million cable customers in New York, L.A. and Dallas — continued into its second week. CBS is asking for higher retrans payments, while Time Warner Cable is seeking to retain digital content rights before it agrees to the increased rates.
The previous agreement between Dish and Raycom expired at midnight Eastern on July 31, after which the broadcaster’s stations went dark on Dish. Satcaster had claimed Raycom was demanding a fourfold increase in retrans payments while the Montgomery, Ala.-based broadcaster said it was asking Dish for retrans fees comparable to what other pay-TV providers pay it.
The Dish-Raycom blackout affected various ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CW and MyNetworkTV affiliates nationwide, from Florida to Hawaii. The companies were sparring publicly as recently as earlier Friday, when Dish issued a press release calling for Congress to step in to prevent blackouts resulting from such fights.
“Since the beginning of the year, Raycom has told its viewers to switch providers no fewer than three times, including twice suggesting Dish as a great choice for consumers, as they play TV providers off of each other using viewers as pawns,” Dish exec veep Dave Shull said in a statement Friday, before the pact with Raycom was reached. “Raycom is the poster child of broadcaster manipulation, exploiting outdated retransmission rules to squeeze money from providers, and therefore viewers.”