The Law Office of Lynnette Ariathurai A Professional Corporation

Dish and Tribune in contract dispute - stations go dark on Dish

There has been considerable controversy between cable TV networks and the satellite companies in the past few years, both here in California and in other localities across the country. It appears that the Dish Network in particular has been involved in much of the bickering over satellite blackouts. Apparently, when Dish has a contract dispute with a cable company over how much it pays to carry the company's programs, Dish often blacks out the programs.

The satellite broadcaster's latest dispute involves the failure to negotiate an extension of its contract with Tribune Media Co. Dish responded by allowing Tribune's 42 televisions stations and the WGN channel to go dark on Dish. The blackout affected about 5 million Dish subscribers in 33 local markets.

Dish has offered free antennas to its customers so that they can apparently then receive the local channels. Dish announced that Tribune was asking for an unreasonable amount to carry its stations. Satellite companies have had to make accommodations with the local channels in its subscriber's areas because local channels are not normally available through the satellite.

Tribune responded by asserting that Dish was refusing to reach an agreement based on what it considered a fair-market value. Tribune claims that it offered Dish the same deal that it has with other pay-TV companies. One of Tribune's stations posted an article claiming this was Dish's 13th blackout in two years.

Inevitably, the satellite company has succeeded in renegotiating prior contracts that were involved in blackouts. Problems with satellite networks and local stations have also affected the satellite broadcasting business in California in recent years.

Source:, "Dish blacks out KTVI, KPLR in contract dispute", Diana Barr, June 13, 2016

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