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CBS Warns of Blackout for Dish Subscribers

Subscribers to satellite broadcaster Dish could lose access to the CBS broadcast network if negotiations between the two companies fail, CBS said in a statement Monday.

“We are committed to providing premium content to our viewers and will continue to negotiate fair value for that content,” the company said. “Unless agreements are reached, however, our viewers should be prepared to lose CBS from their DISH systems on Monday evening at 11:59 PM, MT.” Dish had approximately 13.2 million subscribers at the end of its third quarter ending September 30.

Dish said it was “actively working to reach a fair deal before the contract expires knowing that only CBS can force a blackout of its channels.”

The looming showdown would pit a TV company keen to use its top-rated broadcast programming to eke out new deals with distributors of all sorts with a satellite company that has demonstrated a flair for hard-nosed negotiations in recent years. In December of 2014, for example, an impasse between Dish and 21st Century Fox resulted in Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network being taken off the air. Dish has also itself at odds with both Time Warner’s Turner and CBS in the past. Previous talks with both resulted in brief outages of such popular cable outlets as CNN and Cartoon Network. CBS was briefly off Dish for a matter of hours in December of 2014,  but was back on the system after the two parties came to terms.

CBS has indicated to investors that it wants to notch around  $2.5 billion in revenue from so-called “retransmission fees” by 2020.

If Dish subscribers were to lose CBS, they might miss top holiday-programming draws, such as a Thanksgiving Day game featuring the Los Angeles Chargers taking on the Dallas Cowboys, an NFL doubleheader on Sunday, and SEC football broadcasts on Friday and Saturday. CBS also broadcasts such top-rated programs as “The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS.”

During last night’s broadcast of “60 Minutes,” CBS ran promotional messages telling viewers of the situation with Dish, a move the satellite company clearly saw as an escalation in tactics. “DISH has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers,” the company said. “We are unsure why CBS decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point when there is still time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal.”

 

 

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