With Sinclair Broadcast Group warning viewers that a retransmission consent fee impasse with AT&T-owned AT&T TV NOW, DirecTV and U-Verse could transpire as soon as Saturday, Fox Corporation has become the latest broadcast TV station owner to see its channels blocked by a MVPD thanks to a retrans consent squabble.
This time, DISH is the provider preventing its subscribers from watching any channel — over-the-air or cable — owned by Fox.
In a statement released at 2pm Eastern on Thursday (9/26), using biased language that puts its spin on the situation, that Fox “blocked DISH customers’ access to its local channels” across 17 markets.
The “blackout” is significant and includes not only FOX-affiliated stations but also Fox-owned stations airing MyNetworkTV, or The CW Network.
Impacted stations include some of the nation’s biggest markets:
Atlanta, GA FOX WAGA
Austin, TX FOX KTBC
Charlotte, NC FOX WJZY
Charlotte, NC MNT WMYT
Chicago, IL CW WPWR
Chicago, IL FOX WFLD
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX FOX KDFW
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX MNT KDFI
Detroit, MI FOX WJBK
Gainesville, FL FOX WOGX
Houston, TX FOX KRIV
Houston, TX MNT KTXH
Los Angeles, CA FOX KTTV
Los Angeles, CA MNT KCOP
Minneapolis, MN FOX KMSP
Minneapolis, MN MNT WFTC
New York, NY FOX WNYW
New York, NY MNT WWOR
Orlando, FL FOX WOFL
Orlando, FL MNT WRBW
Philadelphia, PA FOX WTXF
Phoenix, AZ FOX KSAZ
Phoenix, AZ MNT KUTP
San Francisco, CA FOX KTVU
San Francisco, CA IND KICU
Tampa, FL FOX WTVT
Washington, DC FOX WTTG
Washington, DC MNT WDCA
Additionally, FS1, FS2, Big 10 Network, Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Deportes are being blocked from DISH subscribers.
It’s the law — a MVPD cannot provide its subscribers any channel without the consent of the channel’s owner.
As of 2:30pm Eastern, FOX O&Os had yet to post an announcement or response to DISH on its station websites.
It is a near-certainty they disagree with DISH’s take on the matter. As DISH sees it, “Fox is demanding a double-digit percentage rate increase for continued carriage of its local channels.”
It added that Fox is also attempting to “force bundle” its local channels and unrelated cable networks “to get more money and gain negotiating leverage.”
DISH also pointed to Fox’s May investor day, an event where company executives promoted a plan to increase retransmission revenue by 62%, to $2.6 billion, by 2022.
“Taken together, Fox’s actions are profoundly anti-consumer,” said DISH SVP/Programming Andy LeCuyer. “Fox is raising prices and turning its back on its public obligation to provide channels to consumers for free. It’s clear that Fox cares more about padding its bottom line than serving its viewers.”
The one-sided take on the retrans impasse also saw DISH play the role of good guy, noting that it and Fox had been making steady progress in their recent negotiations.
“DISH was hopeful that they would come to a mutual agreement to renew carriage of its local stations,” it said. “In that spirit, DISH offered a short-term contract extension to Fox that would include a retroactive true-up when new rates were agreed upon, and would preserve the ability of DISH customers to access the Fox stations while negotiations continued. The true-up would ensure that Fox was made whole at the new rates for the period of any contract extension. Fox had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by leaving its channels up. Instead, Fox chose to harm its own viewers.”
As an option to those impacted by the “blackout,” DISH is offering as a viewing alternative Locast.
That’s a bit of a surprise, as America’s “Big Four” broadcast television networks have united in seeking to stop the digital app from streaming over-the-air channels to their users without the requisite retransmission consent agreements. The NAB has vocalized its support of efforts that could put Locast out of business.
As of 2:54pm Eastern, FOX shares were down 1.7% to $31.48.