Last month, we told you about the carriage battle between Dish Network and Hearst Broadcasting which began on March 3. Now more than a month and a half later, the two sides aren’t talking and it appears there’s no end in sight. Thirty three stations in 26 markets are blacked out and this includes Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Kansas City, New Orleans, Orlando, Pittsburgh and other cities.
Most of Hearst’s stations are ABC affiliates, but they also have several NBC stations and two that are with CBS. So since the dispute began, viewers have lost live sports like the Masters, NBA, NCAA Tournament, NHL and other events.
The last time we heard anything on this was when Hearst instituted a “shot clock” on its station websites to show how long the dispute has been. And that was when the dispute was just over two weeks old. Now the blackout is retching into its seventh week with no foreseeable solution.
Back in March, Dish said it would accept the same terms as DirecTV when that satellite provider agreed to terms with Hearst earlier in the year. DirecTV and Hearst had their own carriage dispute, but that ended rather quickly when the two sides went into handshake mode. But DirecTV has almost twice as many subscribers as Dish, so Hearst feels Dish is not in the same position as DirecTV in regards to strength.
The Dish-Hearst impasse may go well into the spring and perhaps into the summer and once again, the viewers are stuck in the middle. And while Dish has suggested its subscribers go to Hulu to watch their favorite ABC or NBC programs or CBS All Access, it’s not the same. And as this dispute continues, people will blame both sides. All viewers want to do is to turn on their TV’s and see their local station without seeing a silly disclaimer on the screen.