The Pac-12 Network is in the news again, but surprisingly, the story isn’t about the network being a disappointment.
Via Jon Wilner of the Mercury News, the network has sued Dish Network, claiming the carrier is “withholding payments and violating the terms of their distribution agreement.”
Per Wilner’s story, Dish is guaranteed a rebate if the Pac-12 Network doesn’t air “a minimum amount of games each season.” During the fall of 2020, just one game aired due to the pandemic, with the conference’s shrunken inventory of games airing almost exclusively on ESPN and Fox. After the Pac-12 Network offered a rebate to Dish, the carrier wanted *more* rebates, related to prior seasons.
Dish then began to hold back fees from the network.
Here’s more from Wilner’s article.
In February ’22, the Pac-12 offered Dish a rebate for the 2020 season that was “calculated pursuant to the parties’ agreed-upon rebate provision,” according to the lawsuit. The offer was accepted a month later.
But Dish “also inexplicably demanded from the Pac-12 additional rebates for the two contract years before 2020-21,” per the lawsuit. The explanation for Dish demanding additional rebates is redacted.
The Pac-12 contends that Dish’s position is “improper and unreasonable” because Dish “could not possibly have suffered losses during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 contract years from COVID-19-related football shortfalls occurring one to two years thereafter.”
But the dispute isn’t limited to the COVID season.
According to the lawsuit, Dish “began to unilaterally withhold license fees from Pac-12 amounting to (redacted). To date, it has already withheld license fees amounting to (redacted). This exceeds (redacted) by the allowable rebate of (redacted).”
Yikes. This seems…not great. I’d be interested in the logic behind Dish’s decision to ask for more rebates and not pay the Pac-12 Network what it is owed (but in reality, the logic is probably as simple as “money”). The rebate for the 2020 season makes sense, given the mass cancellation of games, but anything prior to that seems sketchy at best.