CBS Corporation Blacks Out DISH Subscribers; DISH Offers Over-the-Air Antennas at No Cost to Affected Customers
Eligible DISH customers can choose to drop cost of local channels,
savings of $10 per month
DISH offers qualified affected customers digital over-the-air (OTA)
antenna and installation at no cost, thousands have switched
CBS rejects DISH offer to extend contract for benefit of consumers
while negotiations continue
Broadcaster fees will rise to $12.8 billion by 2023, up almost 40
percent from today, estimates SNL Kagan
ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
Tonight DISH reported that CBS Corporation chose to black out DISH
customers' access to 28 local channels in 18 markets across 26 states (view
full list here). CBS is blocking consumers in an effort to raise
carriage rates for local channels and gain negotiating leverage for
unrelated cable channels, all with declining viewership on DISH.
"CBS is attempting to tax DISH customers on programming that's losing
viewers, tax DISH customers on programming available for free over the
air, and tax DISH customers for content available directly from CBS,"
said Warren Schlichting, DISH executive vice president of Marketing,
Programming and Media Sales. "Our customers are clear: they don't want
to pay a CBS tax. It's regrettable and unnecessary that CBS is bringing
its greed into the homes of millions of families this Thanksgiving."
On a recent investor conference call, CBS boasted about the rate
increases promised to shareholders, going from $250 million in 2012 to a
forecasted $2.5 billion by 2020. Those desired increases come as DISH
customers are watching less CBS, with average viewership down 20 percent
over the past 3 years.
As DISH works to reach an agreement, the company is offering digital
over-the-air (OTA) antennas at no cost so that customers in affected
markets can watch CBS's local broadcast channels for free. Eligible DISH
customers have the option to completely drop their local channels from
their programming package, saving $10 on their monthly bill.
Free Antenna Installation, Seamless Integration
In recent weeks, thousands of eligible DISH customers in CBS markets
have made the switch to OTA, accessing news, popular network shows and
sports from CBS and other local channels for free, over the air.
Customers with qualifying equipment, programming, and location can
choose to receive local channels free over the air and save $10 per
month on their bill. At no cost, DISH will install an antenna for
qualifying customers in CBS markets based on the reception available at
"Switching to OTA-delivered locals can unlock $120 savings annually for
DISH customers," explained Schlichting. "Customers will see the local
channels and show information for the most popular channels in the guide
on the Hopper DVR, and can watch and record local channels using their
DISH remote without switching inputs on the TV. We want to help
customers with the choice to save money. DISH doesn't save money, but
Local station availability over the air is dependent on geographic
location and topography. Consequently, some customer locations may not
qualify for an antenna installation.
Streaming Availability and Forced Bundling at Issue
"On top of free availability with an antenna, the fact that CBS makes
its content available a la carte on a streaming app has further eroded
the value of its content for DISH and our customers," added Schlichting.
In addition to asking for significant price increases for local
channels, CBS is attempting to "force bundle" unrelated and
low-performing cable channels (CBS Sports Network, Pop and Smithsonian
Channel) at a premium.
"By attempting to force bundle its cable channels with its local
broadcast stations, CBS is using local viewers as leverage to raise
rates for channels fewer people are watching," said Schlichting.
DISH viewership data reveals that on CBS Sports Network, Pop and
Smithsonian Channel, average viewership is down more than 10 percent in
the past 3 years.
DISH Offer of Extension, True Up Rejected
DISH and CBS had been making steady progress in their recent
negotiations, and DISH was hopeful that they would come to a mutual
agreement to renew carriage of its local stations. In that spirit, DISH
offered a short-term contract extension to CBS that would include a
retroactive true-up when new rates were agreed upon, and would preserve
the ability of DISH customers to access the CBS stations while
negotiations continued. The true-up would ensure that CBS was made whole
at the new rates for the period of any contract extension.
"With DISH willing to grant an extension and a retroactive true-up on
rates, CBS had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by
leaving its channels up," said Schlichting. "Instead, CBS chose to turn
its back on its public interest obligations to serve viewers."
"We are actively working to negotiate an agreement that promptly returns
this content to DISH's programming lineup," added Schlichting.
Need for Retransmission Consent Reform
"CBS is using its mix of local and national channels against viewers,
abusing outdated laws to try to force consumers to pay more. This greedy
attempt to extort more money from our customers is one of the main
reasons we - and our industry - are asking Congress to restore balance
in the broadcaster-pay TV equation," said Jeff Blum, DISH senior vice
president and deputy general counsel. "We are asking lawmakers to reform
outdated TV laws to give our customers the best viewing experience at an
affordable price - without the threat of broadcaster blackouts."
Along with other pay-TV companies and public interest groups that form
the American Television Alliance, DISH has called for the U.S. Congress
to revamp the out-of-date laws that favor these high fees and
Blum continued: "We continue to urge the FCC and Congress to update a
system that emboldens broadcasters to black out consumers."
Rising Retransmission Rates
Each year, the cost to carry local broadcast stations rises far beyond
the rate of inflation, leading to blackouts across the country that
affect millions of subscribers of various pay-TV companies. According
to SNL Kagan, a leading source on the media industry, broadcast fees
burdening pay-TV consumers are expected to reach an unprecedented $9.3
billion in 2017. These same rates, for channels available free over the
air, were as low as $215 million in 2006, soared to $7.9 billion in 2016
and are expected to reach $12.8 billion in 2023.
DISH customers can visit DISHPromise.com
for more information and to ask the FCC and Congress to end TV blackouts.
DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH), through its subsidiaries, provides
approximately 13.203 million pay-TV subscribers, as of September 30,
2017, with the highest-quality programming and technology with the most
choices at the best value. DISH offers a high definition line-up with
more than 200 national HD channels, the most international channels and
award-winning HD and DVR technology. DISH Network Corporation is a
Fortune 200 company. Visit www.dish.com.
View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171120006235/en/
DISH Network Corp.
John Hall, 720-514-5351
Source: DISH Network Corp.
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