CBS Turns Up Retrans Heat - Multichannel

CBS Turns Up Retrans Heat

Dish, Broadcaster No Closer to Deal as Deadline Looms
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CBS turned up the pressure on Dish Network Tuesday, claiming the nation’s second largest satellite TV service provider is willing to let its owned and operated stations and cable networks go dark to its customers.

“Dish has been deliberately dragging its feet for months,” CBS said in a statement. “Now, as the deadline nears, Dish appears willing to drop the most popular programming in its entire channel lineup because it won’t negotiate the same sort of deal that other cable, satellite and telco companies have struck with CBS.”

CBS didn’t quite say when that deal is set to expire but most sources believe it is at the end of the month. It fired the first salvo in the dispute Monday, when it warned Dish customers they could lose access to National Football league games and top shows like The Big Bang Theory and NCIS is a deal wasn't reached soon.

CBS has been notoriously aggressive in its carriage negotiations in the past, and this set of talks appears no different. The network, which says cable channels CBS Sports Network and premium channel Showtime are also part of the negotiations, has said it hopes to generate about $2 billion in retransmission consent and reverse compensation revenue annually by 2020.

That aggressive stance has paid off for the programmer – last year a one-month blackout of stations in Time Warner Cable markets of New York, Los Angeles and Dallas played a big role in record quarterly video subscriber losses (306,000 customers) for the cable operator.

Dish is no wallflower in negotiations either, and has shown it is unafraid to endure lengthy blackouts to get its message across. The company is currently in a dispute with Turner Broadcasting Networks (which went dark to Dish’s 14 million customers on Oct. 20)  and in the past has weathered lengthy dark periods with AMC Networks and Lifetime.

Dish said its position hasn't changed since Monday, when it issued the following statement:

“Only CBS can force a blackout of its channels. Dish is actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires and has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers. We are unsure why CBS decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point when there is time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal.”

CBS noted that Dish has dropped more than 120 stations since 2013, while CBS has had but one service disruption.

“We are committed to providing high-quality programming for our viewers and will continue to negotiate fair value for that content,” CBS said in a statement. “As we negotiate with Dish, we are also taking the necessary steps to alert fans at KeepCBS.com.”

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