An ongoing carriage dispute between satellite television platform Dish Network and the conservative-embraced FOX News Channel are having little effect on the cable news network’s ratings despite new figures that show a dip in overall viewership.
According to the latest numbers released by Nielsen, viewership of the FOX News Channel dipped from 1.65 million viewers to just 938,000 in the first full week since the channel was dropped from Dish. A report by the International Business Times suggested the dispute with Dish was to blame for the lower ratings, although the website Mediaite noted that the reduction in viewers was about the same last holiday season when FOX News was available on Dish.
Dish is the second-largest satellite television providers in the country with 14 million paying subscribers, almost all of whom had access to FOX News before the blackout began in late December.
Dish has accused FOX News’ parent company 21st Century FOX of trying to strong-arm its viewers with respect to it and another channel identified by Mediaite as the FOX Business Network. According to Dish, a renewed contract agreement was nearly reached that would have allowed FOX News to remain on the platform until 21st Century FOX executives attempted to couple FOX Business Network into the discussions.
Charlie Ergen, Dish’s co-founder and chief executive, admitted in a video statement that FOX News’ dominance among cable news networks legitimized some of the company’s requests for higher retransmission rates. But Ergen said the last minute coupling of FOX Business into the conversations amounted to “extortion.”.
“FOX News would be first to decry this type of deal making,” Ergen said. “Imagine if your federal taxes were suddenly increased dramatically, or you were taxed in a state you did not live in. There was nothing about this extortion attempt that was ‘fair or balanced.’ Rather, it was greedy, arrogant and disrespectful to you, their loyal viewer.”
Both sides say negotiations over the channels resume. Dish has since replaced FOX News with Glenn Beck’s broadcasting startup TheBlaze TV.