Nexstar Warns Of Potential Dish Blackout Amid Contract Talks

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Nexstar Media Group on Friday warned of a potential blackout of its programming on Dish Network next week as the two sides negotiate a new distribution deal for the media group’s 164 TV channels. Nexstar, the No. 1 owner of local TV stations in the U.S., is currently available in 120 Dish markets in 42 states.

The two sides are haggling over a new agreement to replace the current one signed in 2016 that allows Dish to carry Nexstar’s network and local programming including its cable network WGN America, NFL and college football games and content via broadcast partners CBS, Fox, NBC, ABC, the CW and MyNet.

The deadline to reach a new deal is 7 p.m. local time (5 p.m. PT) Wednesday. If no agreement is reached, it could mean that Dish’s 9 million-plus satellite customers would lose access.

“Since July, Nexstar has been negotiating tirelessly and in good faith in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable multi-year contract with Dish, offering Dish the same fair market rates it offered to other large distribution partners with whom it completed successful negotiations in 2019 and 2020,” Nexstar said in a news release today. “Despite generating nearly $11 billion in revenue during the first nine months of this year and completing a billion-plus dollar acquisition of a wireless company, Dish has proposed rates that go significantly backwards and, in addition to risking the removal of Nexstar’s local broadcast stations, is threatening to also drop Nexstar’s cable network, WGN America, from its system.”

Dish recently made a deal with NFL Media to restore NFL Network and NFL RedZone to its service just before the start of the 2020-21 season, the latest in the company’s traditionally hard-line stance in such negotiations; it still has no deal for Sinclair’s RSNs and it hasn’t carried HBO since 2018.

Earlier this week it said that Nexstar is “trying to strong-arm companies like Dish to pay outrageous rates and force unprecedented increases onto customers.”

“The broadcast giant is trying to use its market power to demand unreasonable rate increases while intentionally using millions of Americans as pawns in their negotiations,” Dish said Thursday. “This action by Nexstar would result in consumers being blacked out from the highest number of local broadcast stations in the nation’s TV history.”

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