E!, Sinclair avoid blackouts

Dish Network, Time Warner Cable ink extensions

Two TV carriage fights that went down to the wire Friday ended without any fireworks as Dish Network and Time Warner Cable inked extension deals with Comcast and Sinclair Broadcast Group to avoid service disruptions.

Both contract battles were up against a midnight Dec. 31 deadline, and negotiations went into the evening on New Year’s Eve.

Comcast announced shortly before 8 pm ET that it had reached a “short-term extension in the hopes of reaching a long-term solution” to a new carriage pact with satcaster Dish Network for E! and Style Network.

A few minutes later, Time Warner Cable announced an extension with Sinclair through Jan. 14. The retransmission consent dispute threatened to knock Sinclair-owned Fox, ABC and CW afiils off TWC systems in such markets as Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. In all, about 4 million subscribers in 21 markets would have been affected.

TWC and Sinclair both ratcheted the rhetoric in the 48 hours before the deadline — with both sides accusing the other of failing to engage in good-faith negotiations.

“We thank our customers for their patience and support through these negotiations,” TWC said in its statement.

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