Dish tells FCC its going through with arbitration on NBCU renewal

Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) notified the FCC last week that it will indeed seek binding arbitration to end a negotiating impasse with NBCUniversal on a new, broad-reaching broadcast retransmission and cable programming carriage agreement. 

The decision to pursue binding arbitration, Dish said, includes a mandatory "10-day cooling off period," during which the satellite operator can continue negotiating with the Comcast-owned programmer.

"If, at the end of the cooling off period, we have not reached an agreement with NBCU, we will have up to five days to formally request arbitration. In the event of arbitration, affected programming would remain available during that process, and for the foreseeable future," Dish said in a statement.

"Should Dish proceed with arbitration we will of course participate in the process, and look forward to receiving the fair market value for our portfolio of networks," NBCU added in its own statement Friday.

In seeking binding arbitration, Dish is using agreement language included in concessions made by Comcast in 2011 when it gained approval from the FCC to acquire NBCU.

Dish announced its decision to seek arbitration after NBC began notifying viewers of the standoff and a possible resulting blackout.

The NBCU domain encompasses its 26 owned-and-operated stations in major markets including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as 16 Spanish-language Telemundo stations and cable networks including USA, Syfy, Bravo, CNBC and MSNBC.

"NBCUniversal has the most-watched portfolio in the U.S. and on Dish systems, including the No. 1 broadcast network, the No. 1 cable entertainment network, and NBCUniversal is No. 1 in news and late-night television," NBCU said in an earlier statement.

"NBCUniversal is asking Dish to pay fair market value for the networks, similar to the agreements in place with other distributors," Comcast's entertainment arm says on a website that urges the No. 2 satellite company's subscribers to lobby for a deal," the programming conglomerate added. "We are disappointed that Dish is about to deny its customers the most-watched network portfolio on TV."

For more:
- read this Dish press release

Related articles:
Dish sues NBCU over customer warnings, seeks binding arbitration
NBCU hints at possible Dish blackout as renewal talks stall
Ergen: Retrans rules bigger threat to consumers than new set-top rules

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