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Dish customers lose Scripps local stations

Channels in 42 metropolitan areas go dark on the satellite service.

Channels in 42 metropolitan areas go dark on the satellite service.

(Image: Handout/Graphic: The Desk)

Dish Network satellite customers in more than 40 metropolitan areas lost local broadcast stations owned by the E.W. Scripps Company on Saturday

The decision to remove the channels came after both sides failed to reach a new agreement over carriage of the channels, Scripps said, adding that the impasse was not centered around re-transmission fees. Instead, Scripps said the issue was about Dish Network‘s “inability to agree on other distribution terms.” The company did not elaborate on what those terms were.

“We hope Dish will recognize the importance of our programming to its customers and our viewers and help us resolve this dispute,” Brian Lawlor, an executive in charge of local stations at Scripps, said in a statement.

Scripps said the loss of local channels on Dish Network is the first time its broadcast stations have gone dark on a pay TV platform in its 70-year existence. Scripps operates more than 60 full- and low-power stations in 42 television markets.

On Saturday, the local websites of Scripps-owned stations directed viewers to watch local and network programming using an antenna. Local newscasts are also available on station-specific streaming TV apps in the Roku and Amazon Fire TV app stores.

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The issue with Scripps is the second involving Dish and a local broadcaster this month. Earlier, Dish yanked around a dozen local channels operated by Cox Media Group after a restraining order preventing the move was lifted by a federal judge.

In that instance, Dish Network and Cox Media’s parent company Apollo Capital Management had been in and out of court in recent months to discuss whether Cox Media’s prior agreement to carry the stations on Dish Network was supplanted by Apollo’s purchase of the company.

Dish Network has gained a reputation over the years of removing stations in an effort to keep prices low for customers. It let agreements with AT&T’s WarnerMedia for HBO and Sinclair Broadcast Group for regional Fox Sports stations lapse after determining carriage of both would be too expensive for its satellite customers and those who subscribe to Dish Network’s streaming service Sling TV.

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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).