Forty-seven Tegna stations in 39 markets across the nation went dark to Dish Network subscribers at midnight on Dec. 1, 2018. This came after the two failed to reach an agreement in the retransmission consent negotiations.
The Tegna stations are no longer accessible in 34 states and the District of Columbia and the stations include ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox affiliates in Seattle, Phoenix, Denver, and Houston. Dish Network has 12.7 million subscribers all over the nation – 10.3 million satellite TV customers and 2.4 million Sling TV OTT subscribers.
The blackout means Dish Network would miss out on NFL games from broadcasters CBS, NBC, and Fox.
Tegna released a statement:
“Tegna has worked hard over the course of months to reach a fair, market-based carriage agreement with Dish, something we have successfully done with hundreds of cable and satellite providers across the country with do disruption of service. It is disappointing that we have been unable to reach such an agreement with Dish to support our ability to bring viewers high-quality news, sports, weather, and entertainment programming.
While we remain hopeful that this will get resolved quickly, Dish viewers should know our channels remain available on every other service provider in their community as well as many over-the-top (OTT) providers, who offer instant access when viewers sign up. As always, our stations are also available for free over-the-air and viewers can watch our newscasts live on our stations’ apps.
Dish Network is offering qualified customers who have been affected by the blackout free antennas to capture Tegna station signals over the air. Dish released a statement saying the dispute is a move by the broadcaster to “gain negotiating leverage as it demands nearly double the monthly rates for its local channels, even as broadcast TV ratings decline.”
Tegna refused Dish’s offer to extend the contract, instead choosing to black out its stations of the eve of college football’s conference championships and during the homestretch for the NFL season. It couldn’t be more obvious that Tegna is using it own viewers as leverage as it demands nearly double the monthly rats, even as ratings on broadcast TV are down double digits.
Dish is involved in an ongoing retrans dispute with Univision, which went dark to customers in June. The dispute is entering the sixth month and it does not appear that it will be resolved soon, especially after Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen stated could be permanent in August.
Premium channels HBO and Cinemax went dark to Dish subscribers in November.
Dish argues that broadcast ratings are down. The company cited Nielsen reports that show ratings for the Big Four broadcasters (ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox) have fallen by 12 percent in the last five years. They do not deserve the rate increases stations are demanding.
Additionally, Dish Network is reporting that “Tegna rejected its offer of a short-term extension that would include a retroactive true-up after a deal was reached.”
If Tegna gave the green light, the channels would come back immediately, according to Andy LeCuyer, Dish senior vice president of programming. “On behalf of customers, we ask Tegna to stop punishing its own viewers so we can focus on reaching a fair deal.”
Dish has encouraged subscribers to watch NFL games over-the-air or by streaming on their computers, tablets or phones, however, a lengthy blackout could result in customer losses. In the third quarter, Dish Network lost a record 367,000 satellite customers, half of which could be tied to the Univision dispute.
By Jeanette Smith
Multichannel News: Tegna Stations Go Dark on Dish
Image Courtesy of G Bev’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License