According to satellite MVPD DISH Network, 19 networks owned by Fox Networks, most of which carry regional sports programming, are in play in retransmission fee negotiations. The contract has expired without an agreement on a new price, and Fox has pulled the channels.
DISH says that Fox wants a rate increase of greater than 50%.”DISH Network is not going to allow FOX or any programmer to bully our customers into paying such an unconscionable price increase,” said DISH SVP Dave Shull. “FOX has a long history of trying to shake down pay TV providers, including Cablevision, Time Warner, and Bright House.”
Fox fired back. “We have made fair and reasonable proposals that are consistent with our agreements with hundreds of other cable and satellite companies with which DISH competes, and they have yet to engage in a constructive dialogue. We’ve been attempting to negotiate with DISH for almost six months,” said Mike Hopkins, President, Fox Networks Affiliate Sales and Marketing. “We have made fair and reasonable proposals that are consistent with our agreements with hundreds of other cable and satellite companies with which DISH competes, and they have yet to engage in a constructive dialogue.”
In addition to the sports programming, FX and National Geographic Channel are also involved, according to reports. Fox O&O broadcast television stations and its news cable channels are not involved in the current dispute.
RBR-TVBR observation: Once again, it’s internecine warfare as an MVPD distributor locks horns over retransmission with an MVPD programmer. It’s a broadcast-free altercation — take note, all you MVPDers who think the government should protect you from evil local television stations. Shouldn’t you be asking the government to protect you from yourselves as well?
Of course, this dispute has all the makings of a hybrid, since a broadcast element will no doubt eventually come into play down the road when time expires on carriage of Fox television stations.
There is a playing-with-fire element to the current dispute. Pulling sports programming rankles subcribers like few other entertainment disappointments, and not only are some of those citizens politicians who want to protect their constituents, the politicians are often sports-consuming citizens themselves. Taking their big game away is like waving red meat in front of a starving tiger. If players in these ongoing disputes are hoping to fly below Washington radar, this is not the way to do it.