Dish says Tegna rejected its retrans extension offer as blackout involving millions looms

Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) said Tegna Media has rejected its offer to extend its current retrans deal beyond its Oct. 1 expiration and is threatening to black out its 51 stations in 39 markets.

"Only Tegna can choose to black out its channels," said Dish Senior VP of Programming Warren Schlichting in a statement. "Dish is actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires. We have offered a contract extension to Tegna, including a retroactive 'true up' when new rates are agreed upon, to keep the channels available to customers in the event that we are unable to reach a deal by the deadline."

On its station websites, Tegna -- formerly Gannett -- has begun warning Dish subscribers of the usual peril associated with such retrans disputes.

"Starting at 5 p.m. September 30, KUSA may not be available on Dish," reads a warning posted on Denver NBC affiliate KUSA-TV. "That means you could lose access to your favorite NBC programming, including NFL Sunday Night Football, entertainment programming such as The Voice, Law & Order: SVU, Chicago PD and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, as well as your local news, weather and sports. Tell Dish to keep KUSA by calling 1-855-318-0572."

Dish's issue with Tegna is among several looming major blackouts for the satellite TV industry. Media General, which operates 71 stations in 48 markets, is including "Attention DirecTV Customer!" links on all of its station websites. The links take users to a page, informing them that Media General must, "by law," remove its signals from DirecTV's (NYSE: T) program guides by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sept. 30 if a new retrans deal isn't made with the satellite company. 

Not only does DirecTV's new parent company, AT&T, have to deal with Media General, it's also facing the prospect of Tribune Media blacking out its channels on U-verse Thursday. 

The heightened retrans drama comes as the FCC is considering major change to laws governing broadcast retransmission negotiations. Broadcasters are driving hard bargains, anxious to carve the best possible retrans terms before new rules are enacted and take effect. 

For more:
- read this Dish press release
- read this Broadcasting & Cable story

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