CBS Warns That Its Stations Might Go Dark On Dish Network

Here we go: CBS introduced a web site today warning Dish Network customers that when its carriage deal expires this month the No. 2 satellite company “may drop” the network-owned stations in 14 cities including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Detroit. “While CBS has been able to reach agreement with all other major carriers of our stations, we are finding it difficult to reach agreement with Dish, which is why we felt it necessary to alert Dish subscribers in our stations’ markets that they may soon not have access to view our programming,” the company says.

The site urges customers to complain directly to Dish, and on social media, and offers information to help them switch providers.

CEO Les Moonves told an investor conference this week that the company is still negotiating a renewal of its carriage deal with Dish. “I said to [Dish Chairman] Charlie Ergen, your people won’t be very happy not having the Denver Broncos on the air” if CBS goes dark. “There would be a lot of heat for not having CBS programs on.”

Dish says that “only CBS can force a blackout of its channels” and that it is “actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires… We are unsure why CBS decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point when there is time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal.”

Dish has already locked horns with Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting; all of its channels except for TBS and TNT are dark on the service following a contract negotiation impasse.

Ergen told analysts last week that CBS’ recent 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. But 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 they’ll — that you’ll see them on Dish.”

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