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Volume 26 No. 181
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Fox, Dish Network Up Rhetoric In Latest Carriage Dispute

Fox accused Dish Network of dropping its channels on Thursday “before the parties’ license agreement expired,” according to a letter a Fox lawyer sent a Dish exec. Channels, including Fox-owned broadcast stations, FS1, FS2, BTN, Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Deportes, went dark on Dish Network and Sling TV on Thursday. In a letter sent to Sling TV Group President Warren Schlichting, Covington’s Mitchell Kamin, a Fox lawyer, wrote, “Fox never de-authorized its receivers for Dish and is continuing to transmit its signals to Dish. Indeed Dish is the party solely responsible for any ‘blackout’ of Fox’s channels -- a fact you acknowledged in your conversation earlier today with Fox executive Mike Biard.” The letter called on Dish to retract its own comments pinning the blame for pulling the channels on Fox. Kamin’s letter: “Fox sent Dish a signed extension letter, which Dish did not countersign, that would have allowed Dish customers to retain access to Fox’s channels for another 24 hours while the parties continued to negotiate” (John Ourand, THE DAILY). 

ON THE OFFENSIVE: Fox has gone on the offensive following Dish's move, putting a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal on Friday that reads, "Dish Took Your Favorite Fox Sports Away." It goes on to state: "Millions will miss NFL on Sunday and Rams vs Seahawks on Thursday" (THE DAILY). VARIETY's Brian Steinberg noted Fox stations went dark on Dish just as the net was "set to launch the debut of a new season of 'Thursday Night Football.'" Dish said that it had "offered a 'short-term contract extension' to Fox that would have included a retroactive increase based upon the terms the companies might negotiate in the future." A source said that it ultimately was Dish that "chose to pull the stations off the service" (VARIETY.com, 9/26).

PLAYING THE BLAME GAME: In Houston, David Barron writes both sides of this carriage dispute are "playing the blame game." Dish is citing what it "claims are excessive retransmission fee demands by Fox." Meanwhile, Fox is citing "outrageous demands" by Dish and what it says is Dish's "refusal to extend their carriage deal while negotiations on a new agreement continue." The timing "could hardly be worse for local Dish subscribers." Fox has a number of NFL games, including the "next two Texans games," as well as select games in the ALDS, ALCS and World Series (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/27). In Detroit, Angelique Chengelis notes Dish dropping Fox networks also includes BTN, which carries Rutgers-Michigan and Indiana-Michigan State on Saturday. If there is "no movement in negotiations, this could also affect Dish customers who want to watch" Chiefs-Lions on Sunday (DETROIT NEWS, 9/27).

WATCHING WITH INTEREST: In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal writes this "tense marketplace" is where the Cubs' soon-to-launch Marquee Sports Network and the Cubs-less NBC Sports Chicago are "seeking to negotiate carriage agreements." Marquee is not set to "make its debut until February," but the new iteration of NBC Sports Chicago is "in the marketplace still trying to hammer out carriage agreements ahead of its Oct. 1 changeover without the Cubs as an equity partner" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/27).