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Dish gives Glenn Beck a signal boost as spat with FOX continues

Glenn Beck appears at an event in October 2012. [Photo: Greg Skidmore/Flickr CC]
Glenn Beck appears at an event in October 2012. [Photo: Greg Skidmore/Flickr CC]
The ongoing spat between Dish Network and the FOX News Channel is proving to be a benefit to at least one news startup.

Earlier this week, the satellite company began simulcasting Glenn Beck’s news channel TheBlaze TV in the channel slot formerly occupied by FOX News.

FOX News and the consumer-focused FOX Business channels have been unavailable to Dish customers for the past two weeks, the result of a carriage dispute between the two companies.

Like many carriage disputes, both companies are at odds over how much the pay television platform should compensate the broadcaster in exchange for the right to redistribute programming to paying subscribers.

In most cases, a cable or satellite operator challenges a broadcaster’s suggested compensation, which almost always results in an increase in how much an operator pays. But this case is different in that Dish’s co-founder and chairman Charlie Ergen acknowledged that FOX Entertainment was deserving of a slight increase in the amount of money Dish paid to rebroadcast the channel because of FOX News’ high ratings.

The issue, Ergen said in a video last week, was that FOX Entertainment attempted to group in a second, unrelated channel — one that Ergen claims Dish has a long-standing contract with. Ergen said the tactic amounted to “extortion,” and ultimately forced the satellite company to remove both FOX News and FOX Business when the contract to carry the channels lapsed without a renewal.

This week, FOX News enthusiasts have been given TheBlaze TV as an alternative. Dish has carried TheBlaze TV since shortly after the channel launched as a premium opt-in channel costing an extra $5 a month (or free for subscribers of Dish’s top channel package).

As of this week, Dish has started simulcasting TheBlaze TV on Channel 205 — the slot once occupied by FOX News. In doing so, Dish made TheBlaze TV accessible to a larger part of its 14 million pay television subscribers.

TheBlaze TV founder Glenn Beck, who once worked as a FOX News personality, is hoping the free promotion will turn FOX News viewers into long-time paying subscribers of his channel.

“Due to circumstances beyond my control, Dish has removed FOX News and given TheBlaze TV their spot in the channel lineup,” Beck wrote in a note on his Facebook page. “For those of you looking for a channel that shares your values and principles, I hope you will give TheBlaze a chance.”

Beck’s publisher reported the channel is expected to remain in FOX News’ slot until January 7th, unless Dish reaches an agreement with FOX Entertainment earlier.

Replacing one channel with another is not an uncommon tactic for cable and satellite operators locked into a lengthy dispute with programmers.

In 2004, Dish offered several family-friendly Disney and Encore channels for free in place of Nickelodeon after the company failed to reach an agreement with CBS-Viacom. Last year, Dish competitor DirecTV announced they would replace the Comcast-owned Weather Channel with startup channel WeatherNation during a similar carriage dispute.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).