UPDATED, 6:40 PM: Dish Network has issued its first statement since CBS stations went dark on its service this afternoon: “We are disappointed that CBS has chosen to black out their local channels, but remain optimistic that the channels will return quickly as both sides are continuing to work tonight to finalize an agreement.”
PREVIOUSLY, 4:27 PM: Dish Network subscribers lost programming from CBS-owned stations at 7 PM ET. The network says that the No. 2 satellite company “has dragged its feet at our many attempts to negotiate in good faith,” after six months of talks and two contract extensions. It adds that it hopes “that we can reach an agreement very soon so we can all get back to the business of providing the best entertainment, news and sports to the Dish customers we both serve.”
Last night, CBS issued a one-line statement saying its programming would remain on Dish Network as negotiations continued past a 4 PM PT deadline that CBS had imposed.
Dish customers lost access to CBS-owned outlets in 14 cities: Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Sacramento. Also dark are seven CW stations in Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Francisco and Seattle; three independents in Dallas, Los Angeles and New York; and two MyNetworkTV affiliates in Boston and Miami.
While CBS complained that Dish Network, controlled by Chairman Charlie Ergen, dragged its feet, Dish said last month it was “actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires.” Ergen clearly wanted an agreement. Last month he praised CBS’ high ratings and “marvelous job with content creation. I think they’re the best at that, have been the best at that and certainly are a valued partner, so I would certainly think that you’ll see them on Dish.” But he added that the broadcaster’s decision to stream its stations’ programming — except for major sports including NFL football — for $5.99 a month via CBS All Access “makes that product less interesting” for pay TV distributors.
Fallout from the dispute leaves open the possibility that Dish won’t be able to include the nation’s most popular network on a streaming service it plans to introduce by year’s end. Ergen has already lined up Disney, Scripps, and A+E services for what he has described as a low-priced bundle with fewer channels than in the conventional expanded basic package. He wants to target young people who don’t want or can’t afford the traditional bundle.
Also unclear is whether Dish will be able to offer Time Warner’s Turner networks. Due to an impasse over contract extension terms, its channels including CNN and Cartoon Network — but not TNT and TBS — were dark on Dish for a month ending November 21. They were restored while the companies continue to negotiate.