Dish sacks Fox-owned channels

Here comes another retrans dispute as impasse knocks Fox 32, My 50, FS1 off Dish 

In a move that surprised and stunned a lot of observers – not to mention Dish subscribers, Fox Corp. announced Thursday it has pulled their signals off Dish.

This means Fox-owned local channels WFLD-TV and My Network TV affiliate WPWR-TV are off Dish and their streaming service Sling, marking the second time local stations have been knocked off a satellite service this year, with WBBM-Ch.2 being off DirecTV’s service for three weeks last summer, including AT&T U-Verse and AT&T Now’s streaming service. Other Fox-owned stations, including WNYW New York and KTTV Los Angeles and Fox-owned My Network TV stations in nine other markets are also affected.

Moreover, the impasse knocks FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, and Fox Deportes off Dish (both Fox News and Fox Business Network are under separate deals and thus not affected.)

Given these are all-sports networks, viewers will miss live sporting events if a deal between Fox and Dish isn’t reached. Fox has Thursday Night Football with the Green Bay Packers playing the Philadelphia Eagles tonight (also on NFL Network) while Saturday has two college football games and a baseball game scheduled for Saturday night. And of course, you have NFL action this Sunday. And of course, FS1 and Big Ten Network have a ton of college football this weekend.

Also, Fox along with the rest of the broadcast networks (with the exception of The CW) rolled out their new shows and season premieres, with the return of Animation Domination Sunday – including the premiere of Bless The Hearts and Smackdown on October 4.

And in the Chicago area, WPWR has 40 Wolves hockey games this season, with the first game rolling out October 5 against Grand Rapids.

The impasse came as a surprise to a Dish customers, as there were no warnings shown on any Fox channel beforehand. Generally, stations and networks warn customers if their channels are in danger of being dropped.

This comes ahead of yet another dispute – this time involving DirecTV and Sinclair, whose deadline to come to an agreement is at 4 p.m. Central Time Friday. Sinclair owns several stations downstate, including in Springfield-Campaign-Decatur and Peoria-Bloomington. Recently, DirecTV and Disney averted a blackout that could’ve knocked ESPN, Disney Channel, and ABC-owned stations such as WLS-Ch.7 off the service.

Fox said in a statement:  “Dish/Sling is at it again, choosing to drop leading programming as a negotiating tactic regardless of the impact on its own customers.” Dish fired back saying Fox was looking for a rate increase and looking to bundle the local stations with the cable channels.

This latest dispute as viewers are clearly becoming frustrated with both Dish and DirecTV with service cancellations soaring, projected to hit three million this year. But this hasn’t deterred both services from dropping channels. Already, Fox’s RSNs channels (now owned by Sinclair) are still off Dish, while Altitude (home to the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets) has been off Dish, DirecTV, and Comcast systems.

And there’s more to come: on Tuesday, NBC Sports Chicago is likely to be dropped by Dish and DirecTV as it restructures the channel to become the exclusive home of Bulls, Blackhawks, and White Sox; while the Cubs’ new Marquee network faces an uphill battle to get on both services. Even though Dish stated they are looking out for the customers’ “best interests”, they and DirecTV are not really doing so as both are willing to endure huge subscriber losses – projected to be three million this year alone – than make any deal that doesn’t make financial sense to them. In other words, as they are losing sports fans and viewers of local TV stations, their attitude seems to be “don’t hit your ass out the door.”

Today’s debacle between Dish and Fox is more proof cable and satellite companies have declared war on content providers. And worse, Fox never did warn customers about their channels being pulled. All of this creates an aura of deceit and makes it hard to trust any of these companies, knowing now you can wake up one morning and find your channels gone.

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