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Univision, Dish Spar Over Potential Blackout as Contract Deadline Looms

Univision stations are facing a potential blackout on Dish’s satellite platform as a June 30 contract expiration deadline looms.

Univision began warning viewers of the possible shutdown on Saturday. Dish said it was still “actively working” with Univision to reach a contract agreement. The deal covers Univision stations in top markets such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago given Dish’s national platform. The satcaster has about 13.1 million subscribers across its Dish and Sling platforms. Univision owns about 60 TV stations in sizable markets across the country.

“Dish has left us no choice but to alert our viewers that they could face yet another Dish service interruption,” Univision said in a statement. “Dish has dismissed multiple good-faith carriage offers from UCI, including one to extend our current agreement to avoid a disruption of service. While DISH’s own lead negotiator recently compared programming disputes to ‘having a heart attack,’ Dish still seems intent on entering what would be their broadcast blackout since 2010 and causing yet another heart attack for their customers.”

Univision maintains that its primary Spanish-language network is the third most-watched channel across Dish’s platform. Dish counters that the network has lost audience significantly during the past five years. The satcaster also noted that the Spanish-language rights to the World Cup have moved from Univision to rival Telemundo.

“We are actively working to reach a fair deal before the contract between Dish and Univision expires knowing that only Univision can choose to take its content away from Dish and Sling customers,” Dish said in a statement. “Negotiations are standard in the pay-TV industry. Univision is demanding a rate increase of 75% for channels whose ratings have declined by nearly a third over the past five years. This from a company that lost its ability to offer the World Cup not just this year but in 2022 and 2026.”

Univision’s battle with Charlie Ergen’s Dish is brewing just as Univision has undergone a transition in the CEO suite with broadcast TV veteran Vince Sadusky succeeding Randy Falco.

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