More than 140 Sinclair-owned stations are set to go dark today because of a carriage dispute between Sinclair and Dish Network.
The latest disagreement over retransmission fees will affect 3.5 million Dish subscribers in 38% of the country.
Sinclair is telling Dish subscribers it understands their frustration and that they should get the channels they pay for. The station group is also appealing to sports fans to take its side in the dispute.
“Unfortunately, it looks like Dish Network is planning to drop all of the Sinclair Broadcast Group Television stations from your channel line-up,” Sinclair said in a press release. “That means that not only will you lose primetime programming and sports including Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college football from networks like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, but you will also lose your local news from the Sinclair Broadcast Group television stations.”
For its part, Dish said Sinclair is “using millions of Americans as pawns in its negotiations” and that the station group is the reason 144 local channels in 86 markets nationwide will lose programming.
“Sinclair is demanding Dish pay nearly a billion dollars in fees for their television channels—a massive increase from what we pay for these same channels today despite declining viewership,” said Brian Neylon, group president of Dish TV. “Sinclair is making these outrageous demands, turning its back on its public interest obligation and putting customers in the middle of its negotiations.”
Dish says Sinclair is sticking its customers with the bill for the billions of dollars it paid to become the largest local station group in the country.
“Sinclair is threatening to remove its channels from Dish customers if its unreasonable demands are not met,” said Neylon. “This negotiating tactic is used to upset our customers and intimidate us into accepting outrageous contract terms—a tactic the channel owner uses frequently.
“There is still time to reach an agreement with Sinclair that is fair for all parties involved, especially our customers,” said Neylon. “We will continue to fight on behalf of Dish customers to keep TV bills as low as possible. Despite the fact that Sinclair has walked away from the table multiple times, we stand ready to negotiate in good faith.”