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CBS stations go dark on Dish Network

The CBS logo.
The CBS logo.

CBS has pulled its suite of local television stations off the Dish Network satellite TV platform after both companies failed to reach a retransmission agreement.

The stations were blacked out for Dish customers as of 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday.

In a notice to viewers posted on the website, the network accused Dish of failing to work towards an agreement to keep certain local CBS stations on its platform. The company charged Dish with engaging in similar disputes with over 120 broadcast networks since 2013.

CBS said in its statement that it has only been blacked out on a pay television service once in its history. That blackout affected Time Warner Cable customers in several markets in 2013.

Dish’s carriage agreement with CBS lapsed in mid-November. A temporary extension was reached by both sides so that television viewers could watch prime-time football and other CBS programming while the two sides worked through the dispute.

Talks appeared to have broken down Friday evening with CBS choosing to remove its programming from Dish’s satellite TV platform.

More than a dozen television markets are affected by the CBS-Dish dispute. CBS stations in Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Sacramento and San Francisco have been dropped from Dish. The dispute also affects eight CW stations, three independent stations and one MyNetwork TV affiliate.

In a statement released late Friday evening, Dish said it remained “optimistic” that both sides would quickly reach an agreement to bring CBS programming back to the platform.

A statement released by CBS suggested the carriage dispute not only centered on retransmission rights on television, but digital media rights as well. Dish is said to be planning an Internet streaming service sometime within the next year.

“What CBS seeks is appropriate compensation for the most-watched television network with the most popular content in the world, as well as terms that reflect the developing digital marketplace,” a CBS spokesperson wrote. “We hope that we can reach an agreement very soon so we can all get back to the business of providing the best entertainment, news and sports to the Dish customers we both serve.”

CBS customers in affected markets are not completely without options: The company’s recently-launched streaming TV service CBS All Access is available in many cities area affected by the blackout. The service costs around $6 a month and offers live and on-demand programming from CBS, including soaps, prime-time programming and local news. The service does not include access to live sports.

The carriage dispute is the second to hit the satellite TV service this season. In October, Dish yanked several channels operated by Turner Broadcasting from its platform after the two sides failed to reach an agreement. The channels — among them CNN, the Cartoon Network and Tru TV — were restored one month later.

Update: This post has been edited since publication to remove a line that stated WLNY-TV, an independent station in New York City, was not affected by the blackout, and further clarifies that three independent stations (including WLNY-TV) and one MyNetwork affiliate are among the affected CBS properties.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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