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CBS Claims Dish Moving Too Slowly in Rights Talks as Thursday Deadline Approaches

CBS Hunted
Courtesy of CBS

CBS is engaged in a little Dish cracking.

The big broadcaster issued a statement Tuesday warning that its talks with Dish Network over rights to carry the CBS broadcast network and various other TV holdings CBS owns were moving too slowly and suggested the Eye could be removed from the satellite broadcaster’s service by Thursday, Nov. 20, which is when the companies’ current agreement is set to expire.

Dish “appears willing to drop the most popular programming in its entire channel lineup because it won’t negotiate the same sort of deal that other cable, satellite and telco companies have struck with CBS,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

A Dish rep could not be reached immediately for comment. Last week, the Englewood, Colo.-based satellite TV operator said it was “actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires and has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers.”

The CBS statement marks the second salvo that the broadcaster of such broadly viewed programs as “NCIS” and “The Big Bang Theory” has launched in recent days. Last week, CBS began running promos on various local stations alerting viewers to the potential breakdown in talks between the two parties and urging them to rally to the CBS cause. Showtime and CBS Sports Network could also be affected on Dish if the companies fail to reach an agreement.

The root cause of the bickering remains unclear, but such talks would typically encompass not only broadcast rights but also digital retransmission and broadband streaming. Dish is planning to launch an over-the-top Internet TV service before the end of 2014, having signed pacts with Disney/ESPN, A+E Networks and Scripps Networks Interactive.

The CBS fracas comes as Dish is in the midst of an impasse with Time Warner’s Turner unit.  On Oct. 21, Dish lost access to CNN, Cartoon Network and other channels. Dish’s deals for Turner’s TNT and TBS are due to expire later this month. Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said the satellite TV carrier is prepared to drop the Turner networks for good.

Dish has developed a reputation in the recent past for allowing talks to run past established deadlines, resulting in networks going dark. By one count, Dish has been involved in 11 different disputes over the last year. Dish provides service to 14 million pay-TV subscribers.