Dish Network and Nexstar Media Group are warning subscribers and viewers of a potential blackout.
As with past contract disputes, the companies are blaming the other. In a Thanksgiving news release, Dish said Nexstar is threatening the “largest local station blackout in TV history” that could “black out” customers’ access to “164 local channels in 120 markets across 42 states and the District of Columbia.”
The contract between Dish and Nexstar expires Dec. 2, Gary Weitman, Nexstar executive vice president and chief communications officer, told USA TODAY in an email.
“We felt it was important to start advising our viewers who are Dish subscribers of the potential for an interruption in service, since Dish has a history of repeatedly forcing stations off of their system,” Weitman said, noting stations have posted messages on their websites.
Disputes between content providers and cable and satellite providers aren’t uncommon as companies try to negotiate new deals.
“Nexstar is demanding more than $1 billion in fees for its television channels. This shocking increase is the highest we’ve ever seen,” Brian Neylon, Group President, DISH TV, said in the news release Thursday. “Nexstar is intentionally turning its back on its public interest obligation and instead demanding consumers pay significantly more for the channels they could receive for free over-the-air.”
According to Nexstar’s website, the company “owns, operates, programs or provides sales and other services to 197 television stations (including partner stations) in 115 markets or approximately 63% of all U.S. television households including 122 local web sites and 316 local news and weather mobile apps.”
Stations include ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC network affiliates.
KTLA, a Los Angeles CW affiliate, says on the website Keepmystation.com/ktla if the contract is “not renewed with a new agreement, DISH might remove KTLA from your schedule.”
Other Nexstar stations have similar messages.
“WFLA has presented a proposal for fair value, based on the importance and value our programming brings to our viewers,” a Tampa, Florida NBC Nexstar station says on its site. “Despite our tireless efforts, DISH has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult.”