The Sinclair group has reached an agreement in principle with Dish Network, avoiding the blackout of 70 stations carried by the satellite operator. Early Thursday morning, Sinclair said
the two parties would continue to negotiate under a two-week extension of their current deal.
Sinclair and Dish have been grappling over how much Dish will pay to offer the stations owned and operated by the company; its network affiliates include St. Louis and Columbus, Ohio. The stations stretch from West Palm Beach, Fla. to Medford, Oregon.
Sinclair had posted a message on the Web sites of its stations saying that as of 6 p.m. ET Wednesday, no deal had been reached, but the note switched to the announcement of the extension Thursday morning. The parties’ retrans consent deal was to expire at midnight Wednesday. Sinclair had said it had “significant” doubts that a deal would be reached, and it expected to pull the stations off Dish.
Dish, like most program distributors, has grown frustrated with the increasing costs to carry local stations, with Chairman Charlie Ergen complaining to Congress this summer that the local broadcasting business is a “government-sponsored monopoly.” Dish had said Sinclair was looking for a “massive price increase.”
A blackout could have cost Sinclair some political ad dollars as election season heats up. The company has stations in swing states such as Florida, Nevada and North Carolina.