If You're a Dish Subscriber, You Just Lost Access to Major Channels, Like Fox and CBS
A ongoing carriage dispute has left customers without their local channels.
Sure, cable has a ton of our favorite shows, but we still rely on local stations for the news and programs we can't get anywhere else. Unfortunately, some Dish Network subscribers are discovering that they can no longer tune in to major stations like Fox and CBS. If you're a Dish user wondering why your channel lineup is suddenly slimmer, it's because of an ongoing dispute between Dish and another major media company. Read on to find out why access to Fox and ABC—among other stations—has been lost.
Channels disappearing is not a new phenomenon.
Unfortunately, Dish customers aren't the only ones facing missing channels. Disputes between media companies frequently end up hurting subscribers, who suddenly find that they're losing some of their favorite stations.
In other cases, tech issues are the culprit for disappearing channels—another side effect of our current reliance on streaming. Comcast subscribers recently cited missing channels on their Xfinity Stream apps, which allows you to watch network TV on mobile devices, streaming devices, and smart TVs.
"My app only shows 2 channels instead of the hundreds I subscribe to," a Twitter user wrote. "My regular cable box works fine, just not the Xfinity Stream app on 2020 Samsung QLED TV or AppleTV."
Xfinity support providers responded to tweets, apologizing for the inconvenience, but the issue persisted this week. Now, Dish customers are the ones dealing with missing channels—and in this case, a carriage dispute is to blame.
Dish was unable to reach an agreement with another media company.
Due to ongoing disputes about a new carriage agreement with Cox Media Group (CMG), certain Dish subscribers are now facing a blackout of local stations. The channels were removed on the evening of Nov. 28, with both parties announcing the blackout in separate press releases.
The blackout affects nine markets in total, and customers across the country no longer have access to various ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox stations.
Per Dish TV's press release, affected stations are WSB (ABC) in Atlanta; WFXT (Fox) in Boston; WSOC (ABC) in Charlotte, North Carolina; WHIO (CBS) in Dayton, Ohio; KLSR (Fox) in Eugene, Oregon; WFOX (Fox) in Jacksonville, Florida; WFTV (ABC) in Orlando, Florida; WPXI (NBC) in Pittsburgh; and KIRO (CBS) in Seattle.
According to the Dish, it has historically offered customers the right to remove local channels from their plan and save money, but CMG "wants to force DISH customers to pay for local channels if they choose to receive them free with an over-the-air-antenna."
Dish further stated that CMG and other broadcasters began charging both cable and satellite companies for the right to deliver "free" local signals in the early 2000s, but now CMG is attempting to "raise this tax."
"Cox's refusal to negotiate in good faith and subsequently forcing a blackout of its stations for DISH customers is deplorable," Brian Neylon, group president of Dish TV, said in a statement. "Cox is demanding an exorbitant rate increase, negotiating for channels it does not yet own and insists on payment from customers who do not subscribe to local broadcasting, even as it continues to underinvest in local programming. Broadcasters like Cox put profits ahead of the public interests they are supposed to serve, even when its viewership has declined for years."
Cox Media shared its side as well.
CMG, on the other hand, asserted that Dish was using a "well-worn anti-consumer drop tactic" and wasn't making a "serious offer to continue carriage of Cox Media Group's market-leading local TV stations." As a result, the company said that Dish was actually the one who chose to black out the stations for "hundreds of thousands" of customers.
"Let me be clear—despite their numerous false claims, it was solely DISH's decision to remove CMG's best-in-class TV stations from its service," Paul Curran, EVP of Television at CMG, said. "To keep our stations on the DISH platform, we offered DISH an extension of our current agreement with no strings attached, but DISH refused. We're simply asking DISH to agree to a fair-market deal that is consistent to what their competitors have agreed without any interruption of service to consumers."
The company claimed that they asked Dish to keep the stations on the air during negotiations—which they said they're still willing to continue—but that Dish declined. CMG went so far as to advise "disappointed and frustrated" Dish customers to switch cable services, as all CMG stations are available with other providers.
Dish has a page dedicated to outlining the rationale behind disputes and why customers shouldn't switch TV providers.
Taking things a step further, CMG posted a statement on the website for WSB-TV in Atlanta, encouraging customers to call Dish and ask that local programming be reinstated. Per the notice, the ABC channel in Atlanta broadcasts sports programming and popular shows such as Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Grey's Anatomy, and Shark Tank.
The situation has only gotten uglier.
In a press release on Nov. 30, CMG announced that they'd sent a cease-and-desist letter to Dish, asserting that the provider's Nov. 28 press release contained "knowingly false statements," per a letter from CMG's attorney. The company is demanding that Dish "retract its numerous false claims designed to mislead customers."
Best Life reached out to Dish for comment on the letter, but has yet to hear back. According to the company's website, however, if an agreement isn't reached, Dish will no longer have the right to carry CMG's content.
"It's unfortunate that channel owners choose to remove content that's important to you," the site reads. "We much prefer negotiations to be resolved behind the scenes, so you're never affected."