UPDATED 5:16 PM with Tribune Media Statement.
The impasse in negotiations between Tribune Media and Dish Network over market rates was unable to be resolved before the expiration of the deal between the two companies, and Tribune channels have now gone dark in 33 Markets on Dish. The companies failed to reach agreement on an extension of the current deal that would continue service while a new deal is worked out.
Tribune Media warned customers yesterday that a blackout was likely as the deadline for a new deal approached, saying at the time that “We’ve offered the same fair market rates that Dish already pays other local station groups with ABC, CBS, NBC and CW affiliates with top-rated local news, and other similarly valued cable networks… Dish has refused our offer.”
Tribune issued a statement attributed to Gary Weitman, Tribune Media’s senior vice president for corporate relations, shortly after the blackout began. “We want to reach an agreement, just as we have with every one of our other cable, satellite and telco distributors, but Dish refuses to reach an agreement based on fair-market value. We want to keep servicing our local communities and we have repeatedly offered Dish a lengthy extension to continue negotiations—unfortunately, Dish rejected these offers.” The press statement also encouraged customers to contact Dish Network to complain.
For its part, Dish placed blame squarely on Tribune, saying in a statement that “only Tribune Broadcasting Company can force a blackout of its channels. Dish is actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires, and we have offered a contract extension to Tribune to keep the channels available to customers in the event that we are unable to reach a deal by the deadline.”
Today, Dish continued on those lines, saying in a statement attributed to Warren Schlichting, DISH executive vice president of Programming, that “Tribune is demanding an unreasonable rate increase for channels that are available for free over the air. Actions like Tribune’s are what drive price increases and feed customer frustration for our industry. With DISH’s free antenna, customers will continue to receive Tribune channels for free over the air, along with dozens of other broadcast channels not normally available to pay-TV customers.”
The full extent of the blackout and the number of affected customers is not precisely known as of this publication, but the Chicago-based company owns 39 television stations nationwide, as well as cable networks including WGN America and Chicagoland Television.