CBS, Dish Reach Carriage Deal After Brief Blackout

CBS and Dish Network on Saturday morning said they reached a multiyear pact for carriage of CBS-owned stations across the U.S. as well as the Eye’s cable networks, coming after CBS pulled its signals Friday night from the satcaster.

The deal covers 27 CBS-owned stations as well as CBS Sports Network, Smithsonian Channel, TVGN and Showtime Networks, which includes Showtime TV Everywhere and video-on-demand rights as well as future over-the-top distribution of the premium cabler.

The companies’ announcement did not address whether Dish has OTT rights to CBS programming. According to a source familiar with the deal, CBS will negotiate with Dish in good faith for Internet TV rights if and when the satellite carrier launches an OTT service. Dish has said it plans to launch an OTT service before the end of 2014, having secured deals with Disney/ESPN, Scripps Networks Interactive and A+E Networks.

Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed. The sticking points in the talks, which dragged on for months and included two short-term extensions granted by CBS last month, were as much about digital content rights issues as about retrans dollars and cents.

CBS’s signals were yanked shortly after 7 p.m. ET on Friday after days of wrangling between Eye execs in New York and Dish execs at the satcaster’s HQ in Englewood, Colo. The parties pulled an all-nighter to hammer out terms, per sources involved in the talks.

The weekend timing of the blackout was bad for Dish as CBS today is airing college football’s SEC championship game featuring top-ranked Alabama vs. Missouri. That’s the kind of event that would lead to irate calls from fans who suddenly lost access to local CBS stations.

The stations went back on up Dish just before 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday.

Under the deal, according to a joint statement from CBS and Dish, all pending litigation between the two companies will be dismissed. That includes the broadcaster’s lawsuit over Dish’s PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop services, which allow subscribers with the Hopper DVR to automatically skip commercials in shows. As part of the pact, Dish’s AutoHop commercial-skipping functionality will not be available for CBS-owned stations and affiliates during Nielsen’s C7 window.

Dish’s deal with Disney/ESPN earlier this spring had similar provisions to exclude ABC from the AutoHop service and settling their litigation. Lawsuits from Fox and NBC over AutoHop remain pending.

Among other issues, CBS and Dish had been at odds over the value of CBS Sports Network, the satcaster said in its statement Friday.

“We are very pleased with this deal, which meets all of our economic and strategic objectives,” Ray Hopkins, president of CBS Television Networks Distribution, said in a statement. “We look forward to having Dish as a valued partner for many years to come.”

Added Warren Schlichting, Dish senior VP of programming, “We are pleased to continue delivering CBS programming to our customers, while expanding their digital access to Showtime content through Showtime Anytime.”

The agreement includes retransmission of 27 CBS-owned stations on Dish in the following markets: New York (WCBS and WLNY), Los Angeles (KCBS and KCAL), San Francisco (KPIX and KBCW), Dallas (KTVT and KTXA), Denver (KCNC), Boston (WBZ and WSBK), Chicago (WBBM), Pittsburgh (KDKA and WPCW), Atlanta (WUPA), Baltimore (WJZ), Detroit (WWJ and WKBD), Miami (WFOR and WBFS), Minneapolis (WCCO), Philadelphia (KYW and WPSG), Sacramento (KOVR and KMAX), Seattle (KSTW) and Tampa (WTOG).

The CBS-Dish deal also grants Dish rights to Showtime video-on-demand content and authentication rights for Showtime Anytime. In addition, the agreement includes “a path” to over-the-top distribution of Showtime.

Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.

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