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FOX-owned stations blacked out on Dish over contract dispute

James Leggate

FOX-owned TV stations in 17 markets and several sports cable networks have gone black for Dish Network TV customers amid a dispute between the companies.

The two media companies haven’t been able to reach an agreement on the "carriage" rate Dish and its subsidiary, Sling TV, pay for airing FOX’s channels. The dispute includes 28 local stations in major markets like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth and others. Cable networks FS1, FS2, Big 10 Network, Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Deportes are also affected.

The companies had been making “steady progress” in negotiations, Dish said in a prepared statement. However, it accused FOX of asking for double-digit percentage rate increases to carry its local channels.

A FOX Corporate spokesperson said Dish was forcing the network-owned channels off the air as a negotiating tactic.

“Dish/Sling is at it again, choosing to drop leading programming as a negotiating tactic regardless of the impact on its own customers,” the spokesperson said. “Dish/Sling elected to drop FOX networks in an effort to coerce us to agree to outrageous demands. While we regret this is Dish/Sling’s preferred approach to negotiating, we remind our loyal viewers that the FOX services are widely available through every other major television provider.”

FOX Corporation is the parent company of FOX Business.

Andy LeCuyer, Dish’s senior vice president of programming, said FOX was trying to “force bundle” its local channels with its cable networks for negotiating leverage right as the NFL and college football seasons are heating up.

“FOX is using local viewers as leverage to get more money for unrelated channels,” LeCuyer said. “We simply don’t think it’s fair to use local viewers to raise rates on expensive, unrelated sports programming.”

This isn’t Dish’s only recent dispute with a channel provider. HBO has been off Dish for almost a year, and the satellite TV carrier reached a deal with Univision in March after nine months of negotiations. Meredith Corp., which owns stations in 12 markets, went dark on Dish in July.

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