NEW YORK – Dish Network subscribers were unable to watch Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network on Sunday when the channels were taken down as part of contract negotiations.
The Fox blackout is just the latest skirmish as cable and satellite TV providers fight with networks over subscription fees. Dish Network just settled disputes that led to the temporary blackout of some local CBS stations and a separate blackout related to Turner Broadcasting channels – including Cartoon Network, CNN, Boomerang and Turner Classic Movies.
Dish has more than 14 million satellite TV customers. Fox is urging viewers with emails and tweets to switch to another TV provider.
Both sides in the latest spat are blaming each other. Englewood, Colorado-based Dish Network Corp. said in a statement that 21st Century Fox, Inc., was blocking access to the two chancels as part of contract negotiations. New York-based Fox said Dish shut down the server at 11:50 p.m. Saturday, 10 minutes before the contract ended.
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Dish blamed Fox for introducing other channels into negotiations despite those not being included in the contract up for renewal.
“It’s like we’re about to close on a house and the Realtor is trying to make us buy a new car as well,” Warren Schlichting, Dish’s senior vice president of programming, said in a statement “Fox blacked out two of its news channels, using them as leverage to triple rates on sports and entertainment channels that are not in this contract.”
Fox said Dish was to blame for prematurely shutting down the network “in an attempt to intimidate and sway our negotiations.”
Tim Carry, executive vice president of distribution for Fox News, said in a phone interview that Fox was offering Dish a deal similar to what it has with various cable providers. Dish wanted something different, he said.
“How can I continue a relationship with someone who feels that they can be treated differently?,” Carry said. He blamed Dish for not evolving its business model: “There’s at the end of the rope of the pricing and marketing model they put in in 1993 and have not changed.”