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BLACKOUT: Dish Subscribers In 36 States Lose Access To Nearly 130 Stations

(Reuters) – Dish Network Corp said subscribers have lost access to more than 100 local stations due to a distribution dispute with Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc, affecting viewers of a string of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC channels.

Dish said 129 stations in 36 states and the District of Columbia were pulled from its service on Tuesday, in the latest of a string of distribution disputes between media conglomerates and pay TV companies such as Dish.

Dish and Sinclair had agreed on fees to carry its TV stations but the broadcaster was holding out to try to negotiate a carriage agreement for a cable channel it does not yet own, Dish, the second-largest U.S. satellite TV company, said in a statement.

“Sinclair rejected our extension offer and has chosen to use innocent consumers as pawns to gain leverage for the economic benefit of Sinclair, while causing substantial harm and disruption to the lives of consumers,” said Warren Schlichting, Dish’s senior vice president of programming.

Sinclair could not immediately be reached for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.



Dish had filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission on Aug. 15 regarding Sinclair’s intention to black out channels.

Dish asked for a stay action the next day after the two companies agreed to a short-term contract extension to renegotiate a new retransmission agreement.

Like other pay-TV operators, Dish has been losing subscribers as viewers shift to online video offerings by rivals such as Netflix Inc.

In another distribution dispute in December, CBS Corp and Dish reached a multiyear deal hours after CBS pulled CBS, CBS Sports and Showtime from top Dish markets, blacking out NFL football games and TV shows such as “The Big Bang Theory.”

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)

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