21st Century Fox and Dish pointed the finger at each other tonight as carriage talks between the two failed to produce a deal by midnight, resulting in Fox News Channel and Fox Business Channel no longer being available on Dish. Both sides blamed the other for the shutdowns.
“It is disappointing that, after nearly two decades without a blackout, Fox News Channel has been blocked by Dish Network,” Tim Carry, EVP Distribution at Fox News Channel said late tonight. “We care deeply about our viewers and hope that they will regain access to the number one cable news channel soon. We will continue to work around the clock to reach an agreement with Dish, as we have done with every other pay-TV provider for 18 years. This is the third time in as many months that Dish customers have suffered through a blackout due toDish intransigence. Dish’s record speaks for itself, and makes its rhetoric about ‘reasonable’ agreements ring hollow.”
Countered Dish: “Tonight, 21st Century Fox, Inc. blocked Dish customer access to Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, as the media conglomerate introduced other channels into negotiations despite those channels not being included in the contract up for renewal.”
Dish’s SVP of Programming Warren Schlichting compared some last-minute Fox additions to the negotiations to home buying: “It’s like we’re about to close on a house and the realtor is trying to make us buy a new car as well. Fox blacked out two of its news channels, using them as leverage to triple rates on sports and entertainment channels that are not in this contract.”
Dish said the service disruption even though it offered Fox a short-term contract extension that would preserve the channels as negotiations continued.
“Dish has had a productive relationship with Fox for many years,” added Schlichting. “We regret the service disruption to our customers and remain committed to reaching an agreement that promptly returns this content to Dish’s programming lineup.”
“Horseradish,” responded Fox News Channel’s Carry – or words to that effect.
“Fox News Channel did not disconnect Dish, rather, Dish prematurely ceased distribution of Fox News in an attempt to intimidate and sway our negotiations,” he said. “It is unfortunate that the millions of Fox News viewers on Dish were used as pawns by their provider. Hopefully they will vote with their hard earned money and seek another one of our other valued distributors immediately.”
Last Sunday, Fox’s NFL Sunday afternoon coverage featured an ad warning Dish customers they soon could lose Fox News Channel on their menus. Fox-owned stations continued carrying the ad. The programmer launched a website, KeepFoxNews.com, urging Dish viewers to complain.
Dish’s Twitter customer-service page, meanwhile, warned customers, “Fox is making unreasonable financial demands” to continue carrying FNC and FBC, adding, “We have had a productive relationship with Fox for many years and are confident we can reach an agreement.”
It’s the third Dish contract expiration to make news in the past couple months. Most recently, CBS yanked its programming from Dish in early December after acrimonious talks. A deal was struck soon thereafter restoring the network’s stations to the satellite service.
And, back in October, Turner’s deal with Dish expired, leaving 14 million Dish subscribers without CNN, HLN, TBS, TNT and other Turner networks. Service resumed in late November after a deal was struck.