Dish, Hearst Blackout Reaches Two-Week Milestone

Satcaster asks station group to ‘Do the Right Thing’

Hearst Television’s blackout of its 33 television stations to Dish customers across the country has reached the two-week milestone and Dish has an easy solution: give them the same deal the broadcaster gave DirecTV.

Hearst stations in 26 markets went dark to Dish customers on March 3 after the two could not reach a retransmission consent agreement. This is not the first time Dish has asked for the DirecTV deal – it posed the same solution in a video message to customers on March 9. And while it would seem like a logical solution – DirecTV and Dish are both satellite TV service providers – the comparisons pretty much end there. DirecTV is the largest pay TV service provider in the country and with parent AT&T’s U-verse TV and Internet service, has about 25 million video customers nationwide. Dish has 13.7 million video customers, including subscribers of its over-the-top service, Sling TV.

Both companies have stepped up the rhetoric in recent weeks, with Dish claiming that Hearst refused to negotiate a deal and Hearst insisting it is ready to talk as soon as Dish is ready to compromise.

“Hearst blacked out millions of DirecTV customers in January, and eventually the two sides reached an agreement,” Dish said in a statement. “Before Hearst blacked out Dish customers two weeks ago, we said that we would agree to the same terms as DirecTV. That offer remains on the table. Hearst should do the right thing for consumers by agreeing to the same terms as its deal with DirecTV and restoring its stations to the Dish lineup today. Dish is committed to reaching a fair agreement with Hearst to end this blackout.”

Hearst has said that confidentiallity agreements prohbit it from disclosing the terms of its DirecTV deal. The broadcaster launched a radio and print ad campaign Friday to address the impasse.