Dish and Univision saber-rattle over potential blackout

Univision began warning its Dish-subscribing viewers that it may soon pull its channels off the satellite TV service. (Pixabay)

Dish Network has responded to Univision's customer warning of a potential retransmission blackout.

“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.

“Negotiations are standard in the pay-TV industry,” the satellite operator added. “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."

The customer warnings started over the weekend, with Univision telling customers that Univision is the “third most watched network on Dish in any language,” and that the channel will go dark on the satellite platform if Dish continues to leave the programmer “no choice” in broadcast retransmission licensing negotiations. 

As it always does in these kerfuffles, Dish reminded customers that Univision is available with over-the-air antenna. 

"We are unsure why Univision decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point. There is still time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal.”

Both Dish and Univision have lengthy histories with brinksmanship in these negotiations. While Univision noted that Dish has had 68 programming blackouts since 2010, the Spanish-language programmer has had notable pay TV interruptions with Charter Communications and Verizon Fios in recent years. 

In fact, Univision was blacked out for nearly a month on Fios last fall. Its battle with Charter lasted about the same length of time early last year.