Fox, DISH Networks in Midst of Retrans Standoff

Fox Networks pulled 19 Fox Regional Sports Networks, FX and National Geographic networks from DISH Network as of midnight (Oct. 1) when the two companies were unable to come to retransmission terms. More than 14 million DISH customers are affected by the standoff.

Not only was DISH Network forced to drop Fox Networks on Oct. 1, it also had to drop MSG Network and MSG Plus in New York, depriving subscribers of exclusive live coverage of the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Sabres.

The retransmission fight elicited the usual round of dueling statements and dueling Web sites. According to DISH, Fox is demanding an “unprecedented rate increase of more than 50 percent.”

“DISH Network is not going to allow Fox or any programmer to bully our customers into paying such an unconscionable price increase,” said Dave Shull, svp of programming for DISH Network. “Fox has a long history of trying to shake down pay TV providers, including Cablevision, Time Warner and Bright House.”

Fox countered it is not out of line. “The proposal we’ve offered DISH is fair and in line with the tremendous value we provide. We regret the inconvenience to our viewers, but DISH has asserted its subscribers do not value our channels and has made a decision to go forward without them.”

In place of the absent Fox programming, DISH Network is making a number of channels available to its customers at no additional charge: HD Net Movies, HD Theater, NBA TV, New England Sports Network, NFL Network, NHL Network, Altitude Sports, Big Ten Network, Comcast SportsNet California, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Comcast Sports Network Mid-Atlantic, Comcast Sports New England, ESPN Classic, FOX Sports Northwest, FOX Sports Pittsburgh, FOX Sports Rocky Mountain, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network2, SportsNet New York and SportsTime Ohio.

Not included in the dispute are the Fox broadcast network, and the Fox News Channel, under a contract, which expires Nov. 1. Another standoff could mean no NFL playoffs, no MLB World Series, no Glee or House.