Dish, Nexstar reach agreement to restore local stations

The logos of Nexstar Media Group and satellite TV company Dish Network.
(Logos: Nexstar Media Group/Dish Network, Graphic designed by The Desk)

Nexstar Media Group and Dish Network on Thursday reached a deal on to restore around 160 local broadcast stations on the satellite service.

The deal will allow Dish Network to carry local stations owned by Nexstar Media Group to millions of its pay TV customers in 115 regional television markets.

“We’re pleased to have reached an agreement that benefits all parties, especially our customers,” Bryan Neylon, a Dish Network executive, said in a statement.

Terms of the deal reached late Thursday evening were not disclosed, but Dish said WGN America would be added to Sling TV in 2021 as part of the agreement. During the dispute, which lasted nearly a month, Dish accused Nexstar of wanting a national distribution agreement for WGN America, which it called a “low-rated” channel that offered syndicated programming found on other stations.

Dish Network customers have been without the Nexstar stations since December 2 when a carriage agreement between the two sides lapsed.

Shortly after the contract expired, Dish Network said it offered Nexstar an extension to keep the stations on its satellite service, one that the television company ultimately refused.

Carriage disputes between programmers like Nexstar and distributors like Dish were once rare but are becoming more common as programmers demand more money for their channels. Faced with the prospect of having to raise prices on customers, distributors like Dish have resisted efforts to reach agreements where more money will exchange hands in order to secure rights to the channels.