Dish Network and Hearst Television have reached a deal on a new multiyear carriage agreement, ending an impasse that has left satellite customers in 26 markets unable to watch the broadcaster’s stations since March 3. Terms of the new contract were not disclosed.
Hearst has 15 ABC affiliates and 12 with NBC along with a handful of CBS and the CW outlets in markets including Baltimore, Boston, Kansas City and Pittsburgh.
Per usual, the companies had disagreed about price: how much Dish should pay Hearst to carry its stations. Their original retransmission consent contract had expired at the end of February, and despite a two-day extension, the channels went dark.
Blackouts have become normal as stations and carriers stand their ground over fees. The American Television Alliance — a group supported by several pay TV providers, including Dish, that wants to change federal rules governing retrans negotiations — says there have been 102 cases so far this year where broadcasters’ signals have gone dark. That puts 2017 “on pace to be the worst year for blackouts ever,” it says.
Dish, the nation’s No. 2 satellite service, had about 13.8 million subscribers as of the end of 2016.