Hearst Television has followed through on a threat to black out 33 network affiliates in 26 markets on Dish Network.
It’s the second major retrans blackout already for Hearst, which turned the lights out on DirecTV for several days in January. It’s Hearst’s second blackout on Dish in the last three years, with the two companies locking horns in spring 2014, as well.
“While we are listening to customers and working on their behalf to keep their TV bills manageable, Hearst is again turning its back on its public interest obligations and using innocent consumers as bargaining chips,” said Warren Schlichting, Dish executive VP of programming, in a statement.
“With Dish willing to grant an extension and a retroactive true-up on rates, Hearst had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by leaving the channels Schlichting added.
Hearst had threatened to black out the satellite operator on Wednesday, but the two sides agreed to a short-term extension.
"While we had hoped to conclude our negotiations before the extended March 3rd deadline, Dish has continued to insist on including material terms that are less favorable than our current agreement,” Hearst said in a statement released on its station websites. "In addition, Hearst Television has made significant investments to deliver top quality programming to our viewers and Dish is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable.”
Of course, broadcasters’ perspective on just what market rates are keeps getting adjusted steeply upwards. SNL Kagan predicts that total broadcast retransmission licensing revenue will grow to $11.6 billion by 2022.
“We are actively working to negotiate an agreement that promptly returns this content to DISH’s programming lineup,” added Schlichting. “In the meantime, for some of our customers a simple indoor antenna can be a great way to receive these channels for free, over the air. We’ll work with our customers to find alternative ways to watch programming.”
Hearst’s portfolio includes 15 ABC affiliates and 12 NBC affiliates.