CBS and Dish Network said tonight that they have failed to reach an agreement on a new carriage deal. As a result, CBS’ broadcast network, several local stations owned by CBS including in Los Angeles and New York, as well as CBS Sports Network, Pop and the Smithsonian Channel, are now dark on the nation’s No. 2 satellite service. The news comes as the companies’ current contract expired at 10:59 PM PT.
Dish said CBS chose to black out the satellite provider customers’ access to 28 local channels in 18 markets across 26 states overall, and that CBS rejected an offer to extend the contract to continue negotiations.
CBS said earlier today it has tried “for months” to close a distribution deal with Dish.
“Since 2013, Dish has dropped the signals of 29 different companies, representing nearly 400 television stations, clearly indicating that these tactics are commonplace for them,” CBS said in a statement tonight. “This particular dispute is yet another example of the company punishing its subscribers instead of negotiating a fair carriage deal that reflects the current marketplace.”
The disruption comes at a tough time especially for football fans: CBS is airing its annual Thanksgiving Day NFL game (Chargers-Cowboys) on Thursday, as well as SEC college football games Friday and Saturday and an NFL doubleheader Sunday.
Local CBS stations impacted tonight aside from L.A. and New York include Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Tampa, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
Earlier today, Dish assured customers that “we are actively working to reach a fair deal before the contract expires.” It added: “We are unsure why CBS 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.”
“CBS is attempting to tax Dish customers on programming that’s losing viewers, tax Dish customers on programming available for free over the air, and tax Dish customers for content available directly from CBS,” said Warren Schlichting, Dish EVP Marketing, Programming and Media Sales, in announcing the blackout tonight. “Our customers are clear: they don’t want to pay a CBS tax. It’s regrettable and unnecessary that CBS is bringing its greed into the homes of millions of families this Thanksgiving.”
It added that viewership data “reveals that on CBS Sports Network, Pop and Smithsonian Channel, average viewership is down more than 10 percent in the past 3 years,” and that it is offering subscribers digital over-the-air antennas at no cost in affected markets.
In April, Dish and Hearst TV reached agreement on a new multiyear deal to end an impasse that shuttered the broadcaster’s stations for almost two months. That followed a pair of 2016 Dish disputes that resulted in blackouts: the NFL Network and NFL Red Zone went dark six weeks until an August deal with the NFL, and Tribune Media was off the platform nearly three months before a deal was reached in September.
Most recently in the ongoing carriage deal drama front, Viacom and Charter Communications reached an agreement on a new carriage contract after both agreed to extend the deadline to avoid a disruption.