Dish threatened with blackout by two Sunbeam affiliates

Dish Network's Colorado headquarters

Dish Network and Sunbeam, already both already knee-deep in blackout troubles, are about to make things worse.

Sunbeam, which operators NBC and CW affiliates in Boston, and a Fox affiliate in Miami, Fla., has warned Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) viewers that its stations will be pulled off the satellite TV operator's program guide if a broadcast retransmission renewal deal isn't made by the end of the week.

"We are unsure why Sunbeam decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point when there is still time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal," Dish said in a statement. 

This would compound blackout issues on both sides. Dish is currently blacked out on 42 Tribune Media network affiliates in 33 markets. It's also involved in a less entrenched carriage battle with the NFL Network. After reporting a second-quarter loss of 282,000 subscribers, analyst Craig Moffett blamed a "steady stream" of carriage and retrans disputes for trimming 7.5 percent of the satellite operator's customer base in just one year.

"Leaving aside the merits of either side's arguments about right and wrong, what is clear is that Dish's steady stream of programming disputes are having an increasingly obvious impact on the subscriber metrics of the core satellite business," Moffett said in an investor memo Thursday, shortly after Dish reported its second-quarter earnings.

Sunbeam, meanwhile, blacked out DirecTV (NYSE: T) two weeks ago in a similar impasse, which is still not resolved. The company is also facing the departure of NBC, which will abandon WHDH-TV in January and launch its own Boston owned-and-operated station. 

For more:
- read this Boston Herald story

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