HBO chief Richard Plepler issued a firm response to Charlie Ergen, the CEO of Dish Network who held forth at length during Dish’s third-quarter earnings call about the current impasse with the AT&T-owned premium network.
Ergen described the blackout last week of HBO, the first in the network’s 46-year history, as “purely an anti-competitive play” by AT&T, which owns Dish rival DirecTV. He also said it would have been “malpractice” for him to have approved signing the deal put on the table by HBO, which he said suited the TV industry of 1998 but not 2018.
“It’s important to clarify that it was Dish who dropped the HBO and Cinemax signals at midnight on October 31, not the other way around,” Plepler said in a statement. “In fact, we offered to extend our current contract while we continued negotiating. An idea that Dish initially agreed to and then oddly changed their mind about at the eleventh hour. The terms of our proposal were advantageous to Dish compared to their current deal. We’re actually perplexed by their unwillingness to take this proposal as an opportunity rather than perpetuating a conflict which only hurts consumers.”
The statement continued, “The notion that AT&T had anything to do with our inability to reach a reasonable deal with Dish is simply not true. It seems to be a silly but transparent attempt on Dish’s behalf to muddy the waters for reasons only they can explain.”
In addition to HBO, Dish continues to be at odds with Univision, whose Hispanic TV networks have been dark on the satellite platform since July.