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CBS Warns of Blackout as Dish Deadline Nears

CBS is warning viewers that if they are Dish Network subscribers, they could lose access to the network in the coming days.

The message, airing Sunday night during 60 Minutes in primetime is the result of carriage deal negotiations between CBS and Dish.

It was unclear when the current CBS-Dish agreement expires, but a source familiar with the situation said that a blackout was unlikely until at least Tuesday.

Related: CBS Calls Dish Unwilling to Negotiate Fair Deal

“Even as more and more Dish customers turn to digital antennas for free access to their local channels, we recognize that many continue to rely on their pay-TV package to get these stations. For those customers, we are actively working to reach a fair deal before the contract expires knowing that only CBS can force a blackout of its channels," Dish said in a statement.  

“Dish has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers," the satellite operator said. "We are unsure why CBS decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point when there is still time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal.”

CBS declined to comment.

Networks like CBS and multichannel video programming distributors like Dish negotiate carriage deals every three or four years. Since CBS owns TV stations, they are covered by retransmission consent rules, which enable them to see payment in return for their signal.

CBS also owns cable networks including Showtime and CBS Sports Network and those can also be included in the discussions.

The last time CBS and Dish negotiated an extension of their retransmission the network was blacked out for 12 hours before a deal was reached in 2014.

CBS stations carry NFL football games this time of year, which gives it leverage in carriage discussions. CBS also makes its programming available directly to viewers via its over-the-top service CBS All Access.

CBS has been aggressive in increasing the rates it gets for retransmission consent and expect to take in $2.5 billion in retrans revenue by 2020.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.