Hearst TV Stations Go Dark on Dish Network in Retrans Fight

Hearst Logo
Courtesy of Hearst

Hearst Television’s 31 stations have gone dark on satcaster Dish Network as the sides fight over the terms of a new retransmission consent agreement.

The blackout affects Dish customers in 26 markets, including Boston, Baltimore, Milwaukee, New Orleans and Orlando, Fla. The deadline on the previous agreement expired on Wednesday but the companies set a 48-hour extension while negotiations continued.

Hearst stations posted notices on their websites alerting viewers to the shutdown, casting the dispute as an impasse over financial terms.

“Dish has continued to insist on including material terms that are less favorable than our current agreement. In addition, Hearst Television has made significant investments to deliver top quality programming to our viewers and Dish is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable,” said Dave Abel, president and general manager of Hearst’s ABC affiliate WMTW in Portland, Maine.

In recent years, Dish has frequently engaged in retrans standoffs with broadcast groups including Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tribune Media, Tegna Media and CBS Corp. In January, Hearst stations went down on DirecTV for six days while a retrans deal was hammered out.

The tension among programmers and distributors is rising at a time when both sides are feeling the effects of heightened competition for viewers and new entrants in the pay-TV eco-system.

Dish said it had sought to avert a blackout by offering Hearst another extension with the promise of retroactive payments once an agreement is reached.

“Hearst is blacking out millions of Americans for the second time since January,” said Warren Schlichting, Dish’s exec VP of programming. “While we are listening to customers and working on their behalf to keep their TV bills manageable, Hearst is again turning its back on its public interest obligations and using innocent consumers as bargaining chips.”

Dish and other MVPDs have pushed for an overhaul of the FCC rules that govern retransmission consent agreements. Broadcasters maintain that private negotiations for retrans rights helps ensures they receive fair value for the share of viewing on MVPD platforms generated by local TV stations.

Hearst’s TV station assets include 15 ABC affiliates and 12 NBC affiliates. The timing of the contract expiration is less than ideal for Hearst as football season is over for the year. The threat of angry customers losing access to NFL games is a major source of leverage that broadcasters bring to the table in retrans battles.

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  1. Darlene Bruce says:

    I would like compensation for my bill. i use to watch this station all of the time and this is really old and unfair.

  2. Carol Carney says:

    Enough is Enough… I have been missing CBS since March 3rd!!!!! One of you greedy Mofo’s gotta give. This is ridiculous, We need some type of compensation on Our bill.

  3. laurie says:

    I went and got ATT UVERSE TV. I think this was poorly handled by DISH. I would rather see a black station than people talking on a loop about the injustices of paying a few more dollars. It’s been about 7 weeks now. Just ridiculous. Whatever they were paying them before, they should refund ALL their customers and former customers!

  4. Pam Nelson says:

    If NBC, channel 12 does not come back to Dish by April29, I’m changing back to Direct TV. This is ridiculous! I watch this channel a lot and I’m tired of not having it.

  5. Linda delgado says:

    It’s been months now since we got channel 7 please give it back or we’ll switch to another company

  6. Beverly Gunderson says:

    Time to settle. The consumers are the ones affected by the blackout and it seems only fair the same rates should apply that have been negotiated with other providers. Dish is making allowances to their clients and it seems a reasonable settlement can be accomplished without this dragging out any longer.

  7. david spoone says:

    This is for Hearst to encourage an agreement with Dish and be reasonable settlement with them. Hearst needs to remember that we as consumers are the ones that control their purse strings.

  8. Tom Wilson says:

    I appreciate that DISH is trying to keep my bill down by negotiating fair rates for local programming. ABC is a mediocre prime time network, I don’t miss their programming. I’ve switched local news watching from Channel 5 in Boston, which had been my favorite, to NBC4 in Boston and am liking it very much. While my wife misses the ABC Evening News with David Muir, we have found the CBS Evening News to be just as good. So local advertisers are paying the price for this blackout with less viewers seeing their ads. Work it out Hearst, viewing habits are at risk.

  9. Luan Penney says:

    I think both Dish and Hearst could care less about their customers. They are equally greedy. I have been a Dish customer for several years and am ready to tell them to take a flying leap. It’s funny they continue to charge for the local stations on my billings for something I am not receiving….and not only that, they want to increase my bill for a protection charge. I can’t figure out why they can’t provide a national feed for NBC in the meantime. I could care less if it wasn’t broadcast from a local station. For God’s sake, DO SOMETHING for your customers.

  10. Charles Douglas Hodge says:

    Well I am tired of watching the voice on my computer. I have Dish Network for both computer and internet. Channel 4 Greenville has been off since the last of Feb, and frankly why doesn’t Dish get us Rural folks a national NBC feed and tell your friend 4 and their owners to shove it.If either one of you wanted this thing settled it would be done already, remember that every dog has its day, and a time may come we want need either one of you.

  11. Paul gromyko says:

    I been without ABC for 5 weeks while Dish negotions last update is March 23, This is not acceptable.I see Dish ads on all channels which tells me they don’t have A large market like Direct TV, That’s why their not paying Hearst and we end up paying for the loss of ABC. It’s time Dish settle’s this problem I have to watch ABC on Dish net which is slow as SHIT,another mistake I made. not to mention blackouts in bad weather.Oh ya my bill has gone up $ 10 in the last 5 months ENOUGH SAID !!!

  12. Reva Merrick says:

    Come on people get your act together enough is enough it’s been two months for channel 5 NBC. Every time I call it’s always the same answer ” we are close to an agreement ” but you can go to Dish promise and put your input you want your channel back on. Well no Shit everybody on here wants their channel back if this doesn’t settle soon Dish will be losing a lot of customers and finding another company.we are all aggravated we had been watching our favorite shows and in the middle of the series and now we are two months behind.😩Please hurry and help us, good grief we all are paying enough money as it is. Thank you

  13. Nellie says:

    I only watch a few shows on ABC but I can watch them on the internet which is fine with me who needs ABC

  14. William F. Mares says:

    Okay ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We want ABC back. We are missing a lot of shows that we watch on ABC. Dish tell us to go to abc.go.com and watch the shows there. Who wants to watch shows the next day. We live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we were born and raised here watching ABC. We don’t have the option to watch live tv. Dish tells us that they can’t send us a OTA antenna because we are more than 60 miles away from the transmitter. So what gives why to they offer something that they can’t produce? So PLEASE,PLEASE,PLEASE end this dispute. We may have to go to another carrier if this can’t be resolved.

  15. Donna Faris says:

    I am fed up with the dispute with DISH. I have adjusted by watching other channels and fortunately I have found several shows I like that I had never seen before. THINK about your customers and get the negotiations.

    • There are more antennas that go further then 50 miles, I have spoken to them twice and I found out all about it when the one they sent me would not work, they refuse to send the ones where we could all watch that goes much further than 50 miles. They do not tell you the ones were only good if you were within 50 miles of your nearest station, you had to find out yourself and guess what they paid for them and they paid the shipping, how stupid is that and we will pay for them in the long run, not me I am switching to Direct TV as they told me when it was them they did not have anyone blocked out of their TV and never will if I went with them. WELL!!!!!!!!!!!, they better be telling the truth as I am asking for it in writing. For the same money I am paying you get just as much, we will see. I am tired of listening to that same guy say the same thing over and over and I have called and talked to the station manager and it does no good, do they not realize that. It is all a game to them and I have missed all of my programs so I have nothing to loose, they should start loosing customers, both of the the station and Dish Network, one says its the other and vise versa, what is the real truth. Dish says they offered them the same deal they gave Direct TV, Hearst says something else. CONGRESS STEP IN AND DO YOUR JOB.

  16. laurie says:

    Also, I wonder how this if affecting the ratings for these shows.

  17. laurie says:

    I think this has gone on far too long; I had DVR’d a bunch of shows on NBC that I am NOW no longer watching and deleted them from my DVR for good.. Am happy to give FOX and CBS my business. . The true irony of this is a TV with a regular antenna will pick up NBC..Why are they both so greedy?

  18. Terry says:

    The thing that pisses me off most, is everybody know they will settle. So just fucking do it. And DON’T involve US in your negotiations!!!!!

  19. Kathy says:

    I have had it with your greedy petty games. We pay a lot of money to watch our channels. We should be paid back for this by free hbo or discounts off our hills.. I cannot stand you people..bring the channel back now

  20. wilma meyer says:


  21. Linda McDougal says:

    Hey, I have been a Dish customer for a long time, and I am Pissed Off that two large entities can’t get there shit together…..causing customers to suffer. I am considering changing providers over this stupid controversy between two companies who do not care about their present or future customers. Get a large shovel and start pulling together, New Orleans, La..

  22. Debbie wood says:

    This is getting old and it’s bull crap it’s time to make a decision or deal it sure not hurting your or dish pocket it’s the customers who are getting penalties MAKE A DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. P. Viera says:

    Hearst wants Dish to pay more than Direct TV. Just wondering if Hearst holds some Direct TV shares ! It is ridiculous, we haven’t been able to watch our local NBC channel for WEEKS !!!

  24. Debbie wood says:

    This is really bull crap it has been long enough it’s time to quit being greedy and make a deal you or dish is hurting through all this the customers are MAKE A DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Kimmiland says:

    I agree with the commenter who said he’s not leaving Dish, but will leave Hearst. There are ways for me to download the ABC shows I’m missing. I mainly watched our local affiliate for the local news and GMA, but guess what – I’ve discovered that I like the CBS affiliate more. Even if they come to an agreement, I doubt I’ll go back to watching ABC.

  26. Tina M Sanchez says:

    Well you and Dish Network bicker back and forth about who’s going to pay what it’s us the consumers there are suffering. I’m missing my show finally watch on your Channel along with many other people. You both need to get things out of your asses and get the channel back on Dish so that we all can get back to normal and be able to watch the channel that we pay for

  27. Shelby says:

    This never happened with DirecTv as our provider. I see that this is a common problem with DISH. We moved, and gave DISH a try as part of a bundle. We regret it. We’re stuck in a contract now, but we will switch back as soon as possible.

  28. MaryJo Smith says:

    Can’t you people sit down together and figure this out like intellect adults
    Give this problem to a group of high school students and it would most likely be remedied.

  29. Linda delgado says:

    This is why people r going to Netflix and other devices to get away from this. In thinking of cancelling dish too because of all the old programs from 50s and 60s and now no channel 7 abc for almost a month.

  30. Nancy J Martin says:

    I am a Dish customer and I watch NBC channel 5. I am very upset that you and Dish can not come to an agreement, This is not fair to your customers. Please come to an agreement soon

  31. Jim Jo says:

    Look, Hearst is doing a big dis-service to ABC in our area. I’m not changing from Dish…I’m changing from ABC. I hope ABC follows the NBC Boston leadership and find a different affiliate in the area not associated with Hearst! If, it is available free in so many ways, why does Hearst need to “gouge” Dish and Dish customers. I’m currently paying a fair price for Dish, and I’m sure Hearst isn’t going broke over the difference they want from the past contract. Just because you are “told” the “fair” price is more, is it a gamble you are willing to take on losing customers. I own a small business, I’d rather make $10, 100 times, vs make a $100 once and piss off a valued customer. Hearst….you are pissing off your customers!!

  32. Ivana Arena says:


  33. Kerry r cox says:

    Come on get it together root to evil is money

  34. Leann Nunez says:

    Hearst. Do’t you have enough money. My bill is raised and I can’t watch my favorite shows.

  35. Gail Pech says:

    Hearst, haven’t you and your shareholders gotten rich enough yet? Some of your customers are hard-working people, who look forward to their (well deserved) favorite programming. There is so much bad news on TV, and you take off a known favorite station, just because you can. I too remember the antenna on the roof or the rabbit ears. Let’s go back, at least we had NBC. It’s true we didn’t have SO many stations, but most of the ones we get are commercials and other nonsense. What you’re doing is just plain wrong.

  36. Gayle Wright says:

    I want my channel 4 back. I watch so many shows on this channel. Please bring it back. Its not fair.

  37. Barbara says:

    I want. My local chancel. Back on

  38. Karen Edney says:

    I just don’t understand. We pay alot of money to get our local channels and now you are blocking them?? I want to see a change in this mess and let you know that the people are very frustrated with the blackout of channel 4 – NBC. PLEASE negotiate to get us our channel 4 back on the air!!!

  39. Wanda Boley says:

    This is ridiculous. This needs to be resolved. We pay “big bucks” and do not even have the local channels we pay for. Guess the higher ups party at night with their “wine and dine” while we watch on Dish that the problem has not been resolved. Come on give us our stations back and spend a few bucks of the money the consumers are paying for their favorite channels. Local channel 3 is our area in Sacramento and the only local news that is decent enough to view, not to mention the “prime time slot” shows that are currently off the air. Please return to normal broadcasting that we are paying for.

  40. Aimee Larrabee says:

    This is ridiculous, Dish is saying Hearst wants double the money, Hearst is saying Dish doesn’t want to pay what Directv is paying they’re just contradicting one another, I just want NBC back its been 2 weeks, I’ll give them a week longer if no channel I’ll go back to Directv I have nothing to lose to change but NBC to gain.

  41. Sandra nalley says:

    How much longer is this going on please settle it I am a senior and I am missing my favorite program

  42. Please stop all this stuff going back and forth put the channel back on I’m missing all my shows especially The Voice it’s almost the end of the month please someone take a offer now

  43. Tammy says:

    This is ridiculous, Dish is saying Hearst wants double the money, Hearst is saying Dish doesn’t want to pay what Directv is paying they’re just contradicting one another, I just want NBC back its been 2 weeks, I’ll give them a week longer if no channel I’ll go back to Directv I have nothing to lose to change but NBC to gain.

  44. Peg Cobb says:

    The only thing you are hurting is the customer! Try and act like adults instead of spoiled kids and settle this dispute so we can have NBC back again!!

  45. lannie carroll says:

    It not like both are not making money so the little people suffer so both get off your dead ass an fix this please Lannie

  46. Shear says:

    This is unacceptable. I’m tired of changing companies. Why don’t you just settle or start you’re own cable service.

  47. anonymous says:

    how is a boycott organized? Is there one on FB already?
    we’ll join plus spread the word?

  48. Rick Polum says:

    As a publicly broadcast station, your feed should be free to Dish Network. I choose to use Dish as my antenea. I like to watch programming when I want, so I pay for the DVR service Dish provides. This allows me to watch the channel Hearst has blocked WISN in Milwaukee, when I choose, not when ABC broadcast it. Hearst stop being greedy!

  49. It has been over a week with out my channels…Both DIsh and Hearst are not loosing anything here…all you are doing is upsetting the customers…We pay the customers pay the bill…this is your mess clean it up…and get our channels back on…

  50. Jim Amato says:

    Let’s get this over with. Both Dish and Hearst have more money than God. The only one that suffer are the coumsumer’s who work their ass off just so they can sit and enjoy a tv show of their choice. Let’s get it over with.

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