Dish Network Drops CBS in Contract Dispute

In what is becoming more common in this age of digital entertainment, Dish Network today has dropped CBS-owned local stations as well as CBS Sports Network, Pop, and Smithsonian Channel services as they renegotiate a carriage deal with CBS. The outage affects 28 local channels in 18 markets including Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, a total of approximately 13 million subscribers, who will go without top-rated shows such as NCIS, Big Bang Theory, Thanksgiving Day NFL games, Friday SEC football games, and holiday specials Frosty the Snowman and CBS Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This is not the first time Dish has blacked out channels during a contract renegotiation. Fox News and Fox Business Network were briefly taken off the satellite provider in December 2014 as part of a dispute with Fox, as were CNN and Cartoon Network as part of a dispute with Time-Warner that same month. Dish says that CBS is demanding a much higher increase in carriage fees, even though Dish maintains that overall viewership of CBS among their subscribers is down by as much as 20 percent over the last three years. Warren Schlichting, Dish Executive Vice President of Marketing, Programming and Media Sales, said in a statement, “We are actively working to negotiate an agreement that promptly returns this content to Dish’s programming lineup.” The provider also stated that subscribers can request a free antenna to receive their local CBS channel over the air and will receive up to $10 off their monthly bill should CBS not return to their channel lineup.

Meanwhile, CBS has been actively pushing its CBS All Access service, available for $5.99 per month with ads, $9.99 per month for the ad-free version, which streams on-demand and live broadcast feeds to subscribers. The app is available on Android TVs, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and other smart TV devices.

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Todd Erwin

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9 Comments

  1. As a DISH customer it's been awhile since I was affected by one of these. Yes, it's frustrating, but when I look into these situations, such as the one they had with Sinclair broadcasting a year or two ago, there are always two sides to the story, and usually DISH is right to try to hold the line on prices. The real cause for outrage here is the lack of intervention by the FCC, who allow customers to lose channels they have every right to see (as long as they pay their bill) while these squabbles are resolved.

  2. I don't understand why any over-the-air broadcaster believes they're entitled to payment from cable or satellite companies for content they provide for free via broadcasts.

    It's one thing, in my view, for ESPN or another cable channel to fight for a higher rate of payment. But CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and PBS are free channels given away to the public at no charge. So I don't think it makes any sense that Dish or any other cable or satellite company should have to give CBS a dime for something CBS itself gives away free.

  3. Josh Steinberg

    I don't understand why any over-the-air broadcaster believes they're entitled to payment from cable or satellite companies for content they provide for free via broadcasts.

    It's one thing, in my view, for ESPN or another cable channel to fight for a higher rate of payment. But CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and PBS are free channels given away to the public at no charge. So I don't think it makes any sense that Dish or any other cable or satellite company should have to give CBS a dime for something CBS itself gives away free.

    Another issue is that usually the network insists on including all it's additional cable specific channels in the agreement, no matter how poorly they might be rated.

  4. Josh Steinberg

    I don't understand why any over-the-air broadcaster believes they're entitled to payment from cable or satellite companies for content they provide for free via broadcasts.

    It's one thing, in my view, for ESPN or another cable channel to fight for a higher rate of payment. But CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and PBS are free channels given away to the public at no charge. So I don't think it makes any sense that Dish or any other cable or satellite company should have to give CBS a dime for something CBS itself gives away free.

    The re-transmission rights should be going down. CBS should arrange that people who sign up for CBS All Access should get a rebate for the cost of CBS on cable and satellite (or vice versa) or they should throw CBS All Access in with the re-transmission rights. There should not be (at least) double-dipping.

  5. Never even noticed, but apparently only affected 18 cities so I was spared.

    Vaguely remember something similar a few years ago, but it was brief. DISH gets bashed a lot, but I've been with them for at least ten years, very happy with the service, the two channel DVR, etc. Almost upgraded to the "Hopper" just not enough time in a day to watch how much that thing holds.

  6. Josh Steinberg

    I don't understand why any over-the-air broadcaster believes they're entitled to payment from cable or satellite companies for content they provide for free via broadcasts.

    It's one thing, in my view, for ESPN or another cable channel to fight for a higher rate of payment. But CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and PBS are free channels given away to the public at no charge. So I don't think it makes any sense that Dish or any other cable or satellite company should have to give CBS a dime for something CBS itself gives away free.

    I thought I was the only one who thought this way. It seems to me that the cable and satellite companies actually add value to the networks product by giving it a larger viewing audience.

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