Hearst threatens Dish with 33-station blackout

Dish Networks satellites
Hearst also blacked out DirecTV for several days at the beginning of the year.

Hearst Television is threatening Dish Network with the second blackout of the satellite operator in the last three years.

The broadcaster, which owns 33 stations in 26 media markets across 39 states, began telling Dish customers over the weekend that it might remove its signals from the satellite service “if negotiations between representatives of Hearst Television and Dish Network are unsuccessful in reaching a conclusion before March 1, 2017.

RELATED: AT&T reaches retrans deal with Hearst, ends weeklong blackout of 33 stations

Responded Dish:  “Only Hearst Television Inc. can force a blackout of its channels. DISH is actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires. Dis has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers. We are unsure why Hearst 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.”

This is just the latest retrans skirmish for Hearst, which also blacked out DirecTV for several days at the beginning of the year. 

Hearst also blacked out Dish in April 2014 in the run-up to the current retrans deal with the satellite operators. Going further back, Hearst blacked out Time Warner Cable for 10 days in 2012. 

“While we believe that we and Dish Network can conclude our negotiations before March 1, so as not to deprive any of our respective viewers and customers of our programming, we want to advise our viewers and customers that the possibility of nonrenewal of our current agreement exists,” Hearst added in its statement to customers

Hearst’s portfolio includes 15 ABC affiliates and 12 NBC affiliates. 

SNL Kagan predicts that total broadcast retransmission licensing revenue will grow to $11.6 billion by 2022.