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Some Dish subscribers will miss NBA and NHL playoff games

The network has blacked out Fox affiliates and other Tribune stations.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
06.13.16 in AV

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There's bad news for some folks hoping to catch the NBA or NHL finals today. The Tribune network, which owns WGN and affiliates for FOX, CBS and other networks, is no longer available on Dish. As usual with such disputes (which often involve Dish), the reason for the blackout is money. Tribune says that Dish "refuses to reach an agreement based on fair-market value" for its stations, while Dish says "Tribune is demanding an unreasonable rate increase for channels that are available for free over the air."

Both sides have dueling press releases to sway the public to their respective arguments. Interestingly, each claims to have offered stop-gap contracts to keep Tribune stations on the air. "Dish offered a short-term contract extension ... [that] would ensure that Tribune was made whole at the new rates for the period of an contract extension," says Dish. Meanwhile, Tribune says that "we want to keep servicing our local communities and we have repeatedly offered Dish a lengthy extension to continue negotiations -- unfortunately, Dish rejected these offers."

Interestingly, each side claims to have offered stop-gap contracts to keep Tribune stations on the air.

Tribune says that Dish subscribers in Indianapolis, Richmond, Memphis and several other markets missed last night's Tony awards. Subscribers in Scranton/Wilkes Barre, New Orleans and Quad Cities will miss Game 5 of the NBA finals, while folks in Des Moines and Oklahoma City will lose game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals. Some Mets/Yankees and Cubs/White Sox games won't be available in New YOrk and Chicago.

As Variety points out, media companies like Tribune are increasingly relying on cable fees since the internet has cut into ad rates. However, Dish is also taking a big risk by pulling important content from sports-crazy local markets. When Time Warner yanked CBS content several years ago over a contract dispute, it lost 117,000 customers in three months.

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