Dish said in a statement early Sunday morning that 21st Century Fox had blocked access to the two networks after Dish balked when rates for other networks owned by the media conglomerate were made a part of the negotiations. Tim Carry, executive vice president of distribution at Fox News Channel, countered in a statement that “Dish prematurely ceased distribution of Fox News in an attempt to intimidate and sway our negotiations. It is unfortunate that the millions of Fox News viewers on Dish were used as pawns by their provider. Hopefully they will vote with their hard earned money and seek another one of our other valued distributors immediately.”
Dish said it had offered a short-term contract extension that would have kept Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network on the air as the two parties continued to haggle over terms.
“Fox blacked out two of its news channels, using them as leverage to triple rates on sports and entertainment channels that are not in this contract.” said Warren Schlichting, senior vice president of programming for Dish, in a company statement. “It’s like we’re about to close on a house and the realtor is trying to make us buy a new car as well,” he said separately in the company’s release.
Schlichting said talks were continuing despite the sparring over the news channels.
“Dish has had a productive relationship with Fox for many years,” he said. “We regret the service disruption to our customers, and remain committed to reaching an agreement that promptly returns this content to Dish’s programming lineup.”
Fox’s Carry said the company was disappointed by the breakdown in talks and noted Dish’s stance in recent negotiations has resulted in three different blackouts of service in recent weeks, a reference to recent flare-ups between Dish and both Time Warner’s Turner unit and CBS Corp. Fox News has been transmitted by Dish for nearly two decades without a blackout, Carry said.
“We care deeply about our viewers and hope that they will regain access to the number one cable news channel soon. We will continue to work around the clock to reach an agreement with Dish, as we have done with every other pay-TV provider for 18 years,” said Carry. “This is the third time in as many months that Dish customers have suffered through a blackout due to Dish’s intransigence.”
Dish found itself at odds with both Time Warner’s Turner and CBS Corp., both of which resulted in brief outages of such popular cable outlets as CNN and Cartoon Network. CBS was briefly off Dish for a matter of hours earlier this month but was back on the system after the two parties came to terms quickly after the broadcast network went dark.
Dish Network’s sat-TV service reaches about 14 million people in the United States. The company is also in the midst of putting together a package of channels to be distributed via broadband. That has led to some tough negotiations with major programmers.