This dispute seems to have sneaked up on everybody. NBCUniversal today warned Dish Network viewers that the NBC and Telemundo stations the programmer owns in markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and Miami and pay TV services including USA, Syfy, Bravo, CNBC, and MSNBC might go dark Sunday if the companies don’t agree on a new carriage deal.
“NBCUniversal is asking Dish to pay fair market value for the networks, similar to the agreements in place with other distributors,” Comcast’s entertainment arm says on a website that urges the No. 2 satellite company’s subscribers to lobby for a deal. “We are disappointed that Dish is about to deny its customers the most-watched network portfolio on TV.”
No word yet from Dish about the matter. It has about 13.4 million subscribers.
Last month CEO Charlie Ergen said that at a time when pay TV network ratings are declining, “programmers come in for a renewal and say they want a double-digit rate increase, and we say you should get a double-digit decline.” The balance of power in negotiations “has shifted to the distribution people having more leverage than they had in the past.”
But he seemed to have his hands full working out a deal with Viacom. Last month its CEO, Philippe Dauman, warned investors that there might be “hiccups” in the negotiations.
Last week, Dauman predicted a resolution by mid-year. He says the companies are “continuing our discussions,” adding that they have “a long and strong relationship.”