Dish and CBS Corp. renewal talks quickly devolve into blackout

Dish Networks satellites
As is typical of these disputes, both sides are blaming each other for pushing the "off" switch. 

Well, that escalated quickly.

Dish Network subscribers are currently blacked out from CBS Corp. programming, unable to view CBS-owned and operated local stations, as well as CBS Sports and Showtime cable networks. As is typical of these disputes, both sides are blaming each other for pushing the "off" switch. 

It only became publicly apparent Sunday night that the two sides were at an impasse on a licensing renewal deal, with CBS running warning spots for Dish customers during “60 Minutes.” Dish and CBS are trying to renew an agreement they made in 2014—a deal also spurred by a blackout.

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“Since 2013, Dish has dropped the signals of 29 different companies, representing nearly 400 television stations, clearly indicating that these tactics are commonplace for them,” CBS said in a statement. “This particular dispute is yet another example of the company punishing its subscribers instead of negotiating a fair carriage deal that reflects the current marketplace.”

Dish responded by informing customers that they can drop the Big Four broadcast networks altogether and save $10 on their monthly bill. Dish also said it will help “qualified” customers set up over-the-air antennas for free. Oh, and the satellite TV company reminded everyone about some claims made in CBS Corps.’ third-quarter earnings call last week. 

“On a recent investor conference call, CBS boasted about the rate increases promised to shareholders, going from $250 million in 2012 to a forecasted $2.5 billion by 2020. Those desired increases come as Dish customers are watching less CBS, with average viewership down 20 percent over the past three years,” Dish said in a statement

“CBS is attempting to tax Dish customers on programming that’s losing viewers, tax Dish customers on programming available for free over the air, and tax Dish customers for content available directly from CBS,” added Warren Schlichting, Dish executive VP of marketing, programming and media sales. “Our customers are clear: they don’t want to pay a CBS tax. It’s regrettable and unnecessary that CBS is bringing its greed into the homes of millions of families this Thanksgiving.”

Dish said it made an extension proposal to CBS, which it said was rejected. Schlichting also made a point of reminding customers that CBS programming is available over-the-top.

“On top of free availability with an antenna, the fact that CBS makes its content available a la carte on a streaming app has further eroded the value of its content for Dish and our customers,” he said.