Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) said it has reached another short-term broadcast retransmission extension with Sinclair Broadcast Group, halting a 24-hour blackout of 129 Sinclair TV stations on Dish's satellite pay-TV service.
Dish said the two sides reached an "agreement in principle that will form the basis of a long-term retransmission connect agreement" for carriage of Sinclair's stations in 79 markets across the U.S. Specific terms of the agreement weren't disclosed.
"We are grateful for the FCC's work on behalf of consumers to actively broker a productive path forward," said Jeff Blum, senior VP and deputy general counsel for Dish.
The agreement between the two companies comes just hours after FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler convened an emergency meeting of the agency's Media Bureau to discuss the blackout, which affected about 5 million Dish subscribers.
The agreement stops, at least temporarily, the biggest station blackout in pay-TV history. Dish has filed a complaint with the FCC over Sinclair's negotiating tactics, accusing the TV broadcaster of attempting to re-negotiate retrans terms for 32 stations it either co-owns or manages alongside the 129 that Sinclair owns. The companies' short-term agreement appears to have addressed that issue.
The consensus among analysts is that Sinclair over-reached in its negotiations, betting that the allure of primetime TV events -- like the start of the NFL season and fall TV show premieres -- would motivate Dish to give it better retransmission terms.
"These disputes always seem to happen in August right before the football season," said Joel Espelien, senior analyst for The Diffusion Group. "It's all posturing."
Added Rob Kenny, spokesman for the NAB-backed TVFreedom.org: "We are pleased to see that 5 million Dish subscribers are again able to access their local news and programming and most-watched network entertainment and live sporting events with the agreement reached this evening by Sinclair and Dish. Local TV newscasts, severe weather updates and emergency alerts and warnings are important to viewers and something they value and rely on daily."
- read this Dish Network statement
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