UPDATED with talks extended: Disney and Dish have extended talks over a new contract for Disney’s FX and National Geographic Channel, avoiding a blackout that could have taken effect after a 9 PM PT deadline tonight.
A source close to the discussions over a new deal referred to the talks this evening as “productive,” allowing for the reprieve.
Earlier on Tuesday, Disney has started advising Dish subscribers of the looming deadline with FX and National Geo, two networks it took control of in March after its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets closed.
The two companies previously had negotiated past a contract deadline in July, citing progress in the talks as the signals remained active on the satellite system.
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“Our contract with Dish for the FX and National Geographic networks is due to expire soon, so we have a responsibility to make our viewers aware of the potential loss of our programming,” Disney said earlier today. “However, we remain fully committed to reaching a deal and are hopeful we can do so.”
In its own statement earlier in the day, Disney and Sling TV said: “Our goal is to keep these channels available to our customers. Disney, the new owner of these channels, decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point when there is still time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal.”
Dish has been involved in a couple of the industry’s most fraught carriage battles in recent months, with Univision going dark for months before a reconciliation last spring, and HBO remaining dark in a 10-month dispute. Dish has also been in a standoff with the former Fox regional sports networks, which now are owned by a consortium led by Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley has said regaining carriage on Dish is a priority.
Dish chairman Charlie Ergen has expressed pessimism in his recent remarks, though that would fit a pattern where he has previously said other programmers would be permanently unplugged, only to have a deal materialize.
Carriage disputes have grown increasingly common and fractious as the pressure increases on the traditional pay-TV bundle. CBS and AT&T had a pitched battle over CBS stations in 14 markets. AT&T and Nexstar remain at odds nearly two months after more than 120 local TV stations owned by Nexstar have gone dark on DirecTV satellite systems and U-verse cable.
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