If you’re one of millions of Fox News Channel subscribers, you’re likely reeling over the latest blackout. Saturday, Fox channels went dark on the Dish Network after a dispute over contract negotiations continued without a resolution. If you’re a football fan, it couldn’t have come at a worse time as key teams in the NFL square off for playoff spots, citing a report by CNET on Sunday.
According to a Bloomberg report, Fox News is the most-watched cable news network in the United States. In the midst of a legal tug-of-war, the Rupert Murdoch-controlled network urged viewers to cancel their contracts with Dish. Sources say over 14 million Fox subscribers (including its Business Network) on satellite TV no longer have access to programming.
At the heart of the matter is a disagreement over fees and carriage rates. Evidently, Dish has been in talks with Fox News over fees it introduced for sports and information channels without consensus. Warren Schlichting, Dish Network’s senior vice president of programming, blasted the move.
“It’s like we’re about to close on a house and the realtor is trying to make us buy a new car as well. Fox blacked out two of its news channels, using them as leverage to triple rates on sports and entertainment channels that are not in this contract.”
Fox News’ executive vice president of distribution, Tim Carry, countered statements by Dish. Officials say the satellite television provider pulled the plug on its channels in order to “intimidate” and “sway” contract negotiations.
“It is unfortunate that the millions of Fox News viewers on Dish were used as pawns by their provider. Hopefully they will vote with their hard-earned money and seek another one of our other valued distributors immediately.”
According to Carry, Dish’s channel removal marks the third major blackout to hit its subscribers in the past two months. Back in October, Dish customers lost access to Turner Classic Movies (TCM), CNN and a lineup of other channels. After an agreement was reached, the channels were restored about 30 days later due to a contract extension.
Like Fox News, CBS fell victim to a brief blackout in a number of markets across the country. The outages lasted only 12 hours after all parties reached a multi-year agreement. Dish received a perk by receiving video-on-demand rights to air Showtime content. It’s unknown what impact the breakdown in negotiations will have on the long-term programming strategies and stock prices on Wall Street.
[Image via: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg]