Update, 4:30 p.m.: NBCUniversal issued the following statement in response to Dish’s announcement: “We are glad DISH recognizes the great value that NBCUniversal provides their subscribers and is committed to reaching a new distribution agreement. During the FCC-mandated cooling-off period we will continue to negotiate in good faith in hope of a resolution.”
Previous: Dish Networks customers won’t lose access to NBCUniversal channels—at least not this weekend.
Dish announced Friday that it has notified NBCUniversal and the Federal Communications Commission that it will request arbitration in its carriage dispute with the television network group. The notice triggers a 10-day “cooling-off” period during which the two sides can continue negotiations.
It also pushes back a Sunday deadline when Dish customers could have lost access to NBCUniversal networks, including USA, Bravo, Syfy, CNBC and MSNBC. Customers in markets such as Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Chicago and Miami also would have lost access to NBCUniversal-owned NBC and Telemundo affiliates.
“DISH is committed to reaching a new distribution agreement with NBCUniversal and to not disrupt customers in the process,” the satellite television provider said in a statement. “This 10-day cooling off period is an opportunity for continued negotiations while guaranteeing that NBCU cannot black out its networks to DISH customers.
“If, at the end of the cooling off period, we have not reached an agreement with NBCU, we will have up to five days to formally request arbitration. In the event of arbitration, affected programming would remain available during that process, and for the foreseeable future.
“We remain hopeful that we can reach a mutually beneficial agreement that benefits all parties, including our viewers.”
Dish and NBCUniversal are locked in negotiations over a renewed carriage agreement with retransmission fees among the major issues on the table. NBCUniversal took the fight public Monday, launching a public campaign that warned Dish customers of a possible blackout of NBCUniversal channels. Dish responded Tuesday by filing a lawsuit against NBCUniversal and warning of its intent to request arbitration. NBCUniversal issued a statement at the time saying, “Should Dish proceed with arbitration we will of course participate in the process, and look forward to receiving the fair market value for our portfolio of networks.”
Dish has been involved in several recent retransmission fights. The company also faces a looming deadline to work out a new carriage deal with Viacom for that company’s networks.