Battles over retransmission fees now seem to be almost a given when contracts are renegotiated.
Just days after NBCUniversal and YouTube TV reached a deal to avert a blackout, satellite TV provider Dish TV and Tegna, one of the country's largest local TV station owners, are playing out another carriage dispute in public.
Dish and Tegna extended talks after their existing distribution agreement expired, but have so far failed to reach a new deal.
On Tuesday evening, Tegna announced that it had begun alerting Dish subscribers that they may lose access to local Tegna-owned broadcast stations at 9 pm ET today, when the extension expires.
A blackout would mean loss of access to local ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CW and MyNetwork TV stations in 52 U.S. cities for Dish TV subscribers.
Tegna asserts that Dish is refusing “to reach a fair, market-based agreement to continue carriage of those stations.”
“We are committed to reaching a fair, market-based agreement with Dish based on the competitive terms we’ve used to reach deals with numerous other providers that reflect the current market,” Tegna said in a statement. “Thus far, Dish has refused to agree to such terms, which is why we have begun informing Dish customers that they may lose access to their local Tegna station and our valuable programming. We hope that Dish is willing to negotiate a market-based deal before tomorrow night’s deadline, and doesn’t take away their customers’ local news, weather, sports and network programs.”
Dish responded with a press release asserting that Tegna "is demanding a massive increase to nearly a billion dollars in fees for its programming and is using viewers as a bargaining chip in their negotiations.”
"Businesses should have the opportunity to be profitable, but there's a big difference between running a profitable business and taking blatant advantage of consumers," said Brian Neylon, group president, Dish TV. "Tegna is demanding an unreasonable fee increase — an increase the programmer knows will directly impact its viewers."
"There is still time to reach an agreement with Tegna that is fair for all parties involved, especially our customers," Neylon added. "As many Americans look forward to tuning in to football games this fall, and stay aware of the latest health and safety news, we hope Tegna sees how important it is to come to a deal that is beneficial for all."