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Sinclair warns some CBS locals could be dropped from Hulu

A still frame from a local news broadcast on Sinclair-owned CBS station WWMT warns of an impending carriage dispute with Hulu. (Graphic by The Desk)

Some local CBS affiliates may be removed from Hulu’s Live TV service due to a contract dispute involving Sinclair Broadcast Group, according to notices received by customers.

Last week, viewers in a handful of markets where Sinclair operates the local CBS affiliate station began spotting a crawling message that warned of an upcoming carriage dispute involving the channels.

The on-air crawls appeared come several months after Hulu dropped regional Fox Sports-branded stations from its live TV service. Hulu is owned by the Walt Disney Company.

“Attention Hulu customers: Hulu has already dropped [a regional] Fox Sports [channel] and this CBS station could be next,” the message read.

The issue only appears to affect Sinclair-owned CBS affiliates and does not extend to other local TV stations operated by the company. There was no indication as to when the stations would be lost if a new agreement between the two sides isn’t reached.

Hulu is not the only one to drop Sinclair’s regional sports stations stations this year: In January, sports-centric streaming service Fubo TV also dropped the channels, followed by a similar move involving YouTube TV two months later. YouTube TV also removed the Sinclair-owned Tennis Channel in late November.

The loss of Sinclair-owned CBS affiliate stations on Hulu would continue a disturbing trend of carriage disputes between programmers like Sinclair and distributors like Hulu in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, AT&T yanked more than five dozen local stations owned by TEGNA from its satellite service DirecTV and fiber-based TV service U-Verse after both sides failed to reach a new contractual agreement for the channels. One day later, Dish Network removed around 160 local broadcast channels owned by Nexstar Media for the same reason.

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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).