Dish subscribers have lost access to local channels in 42 markets across 31 states in a dispute with the E.W. Scripps Company as the two companies have been unable to negotiate a new contract agreement.
Various ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CW, MyTV, independent and Telemundo stations in the markets are affected.
"To be clear, Scripps chose to black out its own viewers," said Dish senior vice president of programming Andy LeCuyer in a statement. "We offered multiple extension options to keep the channels up while we continue to work toward reaching a deal during these unprecedented times, but they refused."
The company said that Scripps made "a take-it-or-leave-it offer just minutes before expiration."
"The channels could come back today if Scripps would allow it, and we can restore the channels immediately if they give us the green light," LeCuyer added. "While the nation faces the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and Hurricane Hanna makes landfall, viewers need access to their local news and programming. On behalf of customers, we ask Scripps to stop punishing its own viewers so we can focus on reaching a fair deal."
Dish added that it "continues to be open to negotiating with Scripps to come to a fair deal."
Scripps, likewise, said it is "ready and able to make an agreement."
In exchange for using the public airwaves, broadcasters provide their channels for free, accessible with a digital over-the-air antenna. However, pay-TV companies are required to pay broadcasters to provide those same channels to their customers. If the two parties do not reach an agreement, the pay-TV provider must stop delivering those stations.
"Without an agreement in place, DISH subscribers are now missing out on our stations' essential news, weather and entertainment programming," said Brian Lawlor, president of Local Media for Scripps in a statement. "DISH's refusal to negotiate to a fair agreement is preventing its customers from accessing pressing news during a global pandemic, a period of social unrest, an active political year and severe weather season for many parts of our country.
Scripps said the impasse is about Dish's "inability to agree on other distribution terms" after five months of discussions.
"We hope DISH will recognize the importance of our programming to its customers and our viewers and help us to resolve this dispute," the company said.
FOX is owned by the same company as FOX Business.