Dish Network and Nexstar Media are fighting over terms for a new distribution agreement and it could lead to one of the largest local channel blackouts ever.
If Dish and Nexstar are unable to reach an agreement by Wednesday, Dec. 2, Dish subscribers will lose access to 164 Nexstar local broadcast channels in 115 U.S. markets including Los Angeles. Nexstar’s portfolio of channels includes primary affiliates of NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, MyNetworkTV and The CW.
Nexstar is one of the largest local broadcast television station groups in the U.S. and Dish accused the company of using its size to “strong-arm” providers into paying “outrageous rates” that Dish said will result in price increases for consumers.
"Since becoming the nation's largest local station owner, Nexstar has increased its annual revenue by $1 billion a year. Now, it has set its sights on Dish customers as their next big payday," said Brian Neylon, group president at Dish TV. "Nexstar is demanding more than $1 billion in fees for its television channels. This shocking increase is the highest we've ever seen. Nexstar is intentionally turning its back on its public interest obligation and instead demanding consumers pay significantly more for the channels they could receive for free over-the-air."
Nexstar said that its current agreement with Dish was set in 2016 and has allowed the satellite provider to “reap the benefit of paying significantly under market retransmission consent fees.”
“Dish also disregards the fact that as a result of the advent of reverse comp (programming and content payments made by local broadcasters such as Nexstar to the networks), Nexstar’s network affiliated programming costs continue to increase. Furthermore, Nexstar has made continual ongoing investments for the benefit of its viewers and distribution partners through expanded local news and other programming in its markets, the acquisition of costly life-saving weather equipment and a broad range of other improved services in its local communities,” the company wrote in a news release.