Dish and Hearst finally end monthlong blackout

Dish had been pressing Hearst to provide it with similar terms offered to DirecTV. But the two companies are apples and oranges in terms of negotiating leverage.

Dish Network and Hearst Television announced that they have finally agreed to terms of a broadcast retransmission licensing deal, ending a 30-day blackout of 31 network affiliates in 26 markets. 

“We are grateful to once again have Hearst Television stations providing Dish customers the quality local and national programming which we invest so heavily to offer our local communities,” said Hearst President Jordan Wertlieb, in a statement. “We are thankful to Dish subscribers and to our supportive advertisers for their extraordinary patience during this prolonged process.”

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Markets impacted by the blackout included Boston, Baltimore, Milwaukee, New Orleans and Orlando, Florida.

RELATED: Dish and Hearst go silent, could be set for long-running retrans battle

Speculation among broadcast- and cable-industry watchers in recent weeks held that this could be a prolonged service interruption, with rhetoric on both sides going silent, but without the parties resuming negotiations.

Dish had been pressing Hearst to provide it with similar terms offered to DirecTV, with the broadcaster and the satellite operator’s parent company, AT&T, agreeing to a retrans deal in January.

However, ending 2016 with 13.67 million subscribers, Dish Network is an apple to DirecTV’s orange in terms of negotiating leverage. AT&T ended the year with an industry-leading 25.27 million pay-TV customers. 

Dish has endured a steady sequence of testy negotiations related to broadcast retransmission and carriage over the last several years, largely because it has pressed hard to secure OTT rights for its IP platform, Sling TV.