Dish Network and Hearst Television said they reached an agreement restoring the broadcast group’s stations in 25 markets to the satcaster, after the channels went dark for about 14 hours starting Tuesday evening.
Terms of the agreement are not being disclosed, and it’s not clear what the dispute was about.
The blackout began after the parties’ previous retransmission-consent deal expired at 10 p.m. Eastern last night. About 2 million Dish subscribers lost access to 29 Hearst-operated stations in markets including Baltimore, Boston, Kansas City, Mo., Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orlando, Fla., and Pittsburgh.
In a statement announcing the agreement with Dish, Hearst Television said: “We appreciate the support and patience of our viewers, advertisers and local communities served by our stations. We regret the inconvenience they’ve experienced over the past several hours. We are pleased the interruption was brief and that our stations have been restored on Dish Network systems.”
Previously, Hearst TV had said Dish was seeking terms “that we don’t have in our deals with any other cable or satellite distributor or telco, nor do we have them in our current deal with Dish.” The broadcast group did not specify what those terms were. “Apparently, Dish does not have a problem with rates, so it is hard to understand why Dish is holding subscribers and viewers hostage over terms that are radically off-market,” the broadcasting company said.
In a previous statement, Dish didn’t shed any light on what it was seeking from Hearst TV, either. “Hearst blacked out its channels to use viewers as bargaining chips as it makes unreasonable demands on Dish and its customers,” Dish exec VP Dave Shull said in a statement. “We offered to keep the channels on while we try to reach a deal, but Hearst refuses to put viewers first.”
Dish has been involved in a disproportionate share of retrans fights with broadcasters. Media General stations in 17 markets were dark on the satcaster for 47 days last fall, before the parties inked a deal. That was after the satcaster in August lost access to 53 TV stations owned by Raycom Media in 36 markets for eight days before resolving the standoff over fees.
In another high-profile retrans fight, Time Warner Cable suffered a 32-day blackout of CBS stations in New York, L.A. and Dallas as well as the loss of Showtime and other CBS-owned cablers nationwide before the two sides came to terms Sept. 2.
Hearst Television’s 29 TV stations reach approximately 18% of U.S. TV households. The company owns 13 ABC affiliated stations, 10 NBC affiliates and two CBS affiliates.
The 25 markets where Hearst TV operates are: Albuquerque, N.M.; Baltimore; Boston; Burlington, Vt.; Cincinnati; Des Moines, Iowa; Ft. Smith-Fayetteville, Ark.; Greensboro, N.C.; Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Honolulu; Jackson, Miss.; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; Milwaukee; Monterey-Salinas, Calif.; New Orleans; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Omaha, Neb.; Orlando, Fla.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Portland-Auburn, Maine; Sacramento, Calif.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.