Cox Stations Blacked Out to Dish Subs in Retransmission Dispute

A Dish technician standing outside a company van.
(Image credit: Dish)

Cox Media Group stations in nine markets have been blacked out to Dish TV subscribers because of a retransmission fee dispute, effective Monday.

Dish said that one issue is Dish is allowing subscribers to opt out of local stations as part of their pay-TV service. Dish says Cox wants Dish to pay fees for those customers.

Dish also said that Cox is looking for an "exorbitant rate increase," and is negotiating for stations it doesn’t own yet.

The dispute affects Cox stations in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Dayton, Eugene, Jacksonville, Orlando, Pittsburgh and Seattle. Cox Media Group is controlled by Apollo Global Management.

Also: Four Standard General Stations Blacked Out in Dispute With Dish

As the year comes to an end, carriage disputes usually become an issue as distribution deals expire. Over the weekend Fox warned that DirectTV subscribers could loose its stations and some of its cable networks when its distribution agreement with DirecTV Friday at midnight Pacific time.

In October, Disney's networks were blacked out on Dish for a day before a new agreement was reached.

"Cox's refusal to negotiate in good faith and subsequently forcing a blackout of its stations for Dish customers is deplorable," said Brian Neylon, group president of Dish TV. "Cox is demanding an exorbitant rate increase, negotiating for channels it does not yet own and insists on payment from customers who do not subscribe to local broadcasting, even as it continues to underinvest in local programming. Broadcasters like Cox put profits ahead of the public interests they are supposed to serve, even when its viewership has declined for years."

Dish noted that Cox’s viewership on Dish TV has significantly declined, Despite the decline, Cox is demanding rate increase of nearly 75%.

"We are deeply disappointed in Cox's decision to remove its channels from DISH after attempting to force an unjustifiable fee increase that directly impacts our customers," said Neylon. "We can't sit by and accept Cox's unreasonable demands. We will continue fighting on behalf of our customers to come to a fair deal that is beneficial for all."

On the website of Cox’s WSB-TV, Atlanta, the broadcaster says that “the satellite provider refused to agree to a fair deal for a new retransmission consent agreement.”  It urges viewers to call Dish to demand the return of local programming. “CMG is hopeful that Dish will abandon its well-worn path of blacking out TV stations to the detriment of consumers in favor of meaningful negotiations toward a fair deal.” ■

Jon Lafayette

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.