Come Wednesday, ABC could appear a bit “Black-ish” to DISH Network subscribers in Nebraska’s biggest DMA and in Kansas City.
At the same time, NBC viewers in Baltimore could soon be screaming “This Is Us” when asked who can no longer watch the program on DISH Network.
The DBS provider and Hearst Television are currently negotiating a renewal of the retransmission consent agreement for the carriage of Hearst broadcast stations on DISH Network’s systems.
Talks remain ongoing, and if a renewal is not seen by the end of the day Feb. 28, Dish “will be forced” to remove Hearst’s 15 ABC affiliates (including KETV-7 in Omaha and KMBC-9 in Kansas City) and 12 NBC affiliates (including WBAL-11 in Baltimore).
Hearst took to the KETV and KMBC websites to explain to viewers that, if they watch the station via Dish, the removal of the station’s signal “may result.” A similar notice appeared over the weekend at WPBF-25 in West Palm Beach’s website.
Satellite distributors are prohibited by law from carrying broadcasters’ signals without their consent. Thus, a fade to black is all but inevitable should a last-minute deal fail to surface.
“While we believe that we and Dish Network can conclude our negotiations before March 1, so as not to deprive any of our respective viewers and customers of our programming, we want to advise our viewers and customers that the possibility of non-renewal of our current agreement exists,” Hearst said in a statement.
If the Hearst stations go dark on Dish, it would be a repeat of April 2014, when a 14-hour blackout was seen when both sides could not come to a retransmission fee agreement.
Hearst Television owns and operates 33 TV stations in 26 DMAs.