The Sinclair Broadcast Group and Dish Network reached a temporary agreement over the weekend that will allow more than 100 Sinclair-run local channels to remain on the satellite service while both sides hammer out a new contract.
The extension comes after Sinclair began alerting local viewers that one or more of their broadcast affiliates were in danger of being yanked from the satellite service after the companies were apparently unable to reach a long-term agreement.
“We have agreed to a short-term extension with Dish to continue conversations,” a Sinclair executive said in a statement on Monday. “We will continue to update our viewers as this develops. Sinclair stands willing to continue to negotiate in good faith and to enter into a longer extension to allow for the continued carriage of our channels to Dish [Network’s] subscribers.”
As recently as last Thursday, both sides appeared willing to walk away from the negotiating table after Sinclair issued a press release saying Dish Network was “planning to drop” all of its channels from its satellite system and associated streaming service Sling TV.
In a competing statement earlier in the week, a Dish Network spokesperson said Sinclair was “demanding Dish [Network] pay nearly $1 billion in fees for their television channels,” which the company said amounted to “a massive increase from what we pay for these same channels today despite declining viewership.”
The fee covered more than 140 local ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and independent channels in 86 television markets across the United States as well as the nationally-distributed sports-centric Tennis Channel. Stadium, a Sinclair-owned sports channel carried on Sling TV, did not appear to be at the center of the dispute.
In addition to the fee increase, Dish Network complained that Sinclair was forcing the satellite company to “carry other programming that many customers don’t watch.” The satellite broadcaster didn’t say what that “other programming” was, but it did hint that Sinclair’s demands centered around two dozen regional sports networks that the company acquired from Disney several years ago — channels that Dish Network dropped around that same time.
“Sinclair spent billions of dollars to acquire new channels, and now they’re demanding a massive increase because they want Dish [Network] customers to foot the bill,” a spokesperson said.
On Thursday, a Sinclair spokesperson strongly suggested carriage of the Bally Sports channels were also in play as it continues to negotiate with Dish Network.
“Dish Network has already taken away many local sporting events from your favorite local teams by dropping Bally Sports from its lineup,” the company told viewers in a note posted online.
Should Dish Network and Sinclair find themselves unable to negotiate another extension, many of the affected broadcast channels can be received for free using an antenna, or through the streaming service Locast.