Three years after their last program licensing negotiation broke down into a 12-hour blackout, Dish Network and CBS Corp. once again appear to be locked into a pattern of brinksmanship.
As noted by Broadcasting & Cable, CBS Corp. ran messaging during the venerable Sunday-evening news program 60 Minutes, warning Dish subscribers that they might lose access to the CBS TV Network and other CBS Corp. channels should a deal not be reached. No deadline was specified.
Dish responded with this statement: “Even as more and more Dish customers turn to digital antennas for free access to their local channels, we recognize that many continue to rely on their pay-TV package to get these stations. For those customers, we are actively working to reach a fair deal before the contract expires knowing that only CBS can force a blackout of its channels.”
Dish added, “Dish has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers," the satellite operator said. "We are unsure why CBS 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 has endured a steady line of disruption of program availability to its customers as it has sought to hold the line on fast-increasing broadcast retransmission fees.
Notably, Dish’s Sling TV is the only major virtual MVPD service that doesn’t yet include CBS in its programming bundle.
As for Dish’s core satellite TV service, a blackout of a Big Four broadcast networks would come at a tough time, with the linear platform seeing its customer base decline by 8.4% in the last year.