Tegna extends Dish 24 hours, as blackout-laden Thursday looms

Tegna Media said it has agreed to wait an additional 24 hours from the 7 p.m. EST expiration of its retrans deal tonight with Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) before blacking out its 46 stations on the satellite operator's service.

Tegna (formerly Gannett) reaches 90 million U.S. viewers in 25 markets, controlling a range a powerful network affiliates.

Dish released a statement Friday saying it had agreed to pay Tegna whatever new deal terms were agreed to, retroactive to Oct. 1, so long as the two sides could avoid a blackout and keep negotiating into October. Dish said Tegna rejected that offer. 

The negotiations are among several down-to-the-wire retrans talks occurring in the pay-TV industry, with AT&T also facing an Oct. 1 blackout on Tribune stations that would impact 24 stations in 19 markets. AT&T (NYSE: T) is simultaneously dealing with a possible blackout of its new DirecTV unit on Media General, affecting 62 stations in 40 markets.

In all, more than 130 TV stations could go dark on a major pay-TV service Thursday. 

The difficult talks are occurring as the FCC is examining possible rule changes regulating broadcast retransmission negotiations. Pay-TV operators are pushing back against fast-rising retrans fees, which have increased, on average, 40 percent per subscriber just in the last year.

Station groups, meanwhile, are mindful that essential leverage, such as "exclusivity" rules that restrict operators' ability to pull in distant station signals in the event of a blackout, could be going away amid the FCC's review of retrans. These broadcasters are pushing hard for the best possible deal before this fundamental shift to the playing field occurs. 

Related articles:
Dish says Tegna rejected its retrans extension offer as blackout involving millions looms
CBS renews affiliation agreement with Tegna, brings 10M more homes into All Access OTT tent
AT&T facing Tribune blackout on U-verse, Media General interruption on DirecTV

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