Dish Sues NBC for Contract Breach

In a sign that its retransmission talks with Comcast's NBCUniversal networks aren’t going as smoothly it would like, Dish Network said it has filed a lawsuit against the programmer, alleging breach of contract.

In a statement, Dish said NBC’s public statements over the past 24 hours are in violation of its agreement with the programmer, prompting the suit.

"Dish has successfully negotiated agreements representing numerous networks in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers,” Dish said in a statement. “Dish’s goal is to reach a mutually beneficial deal with NBC.”

Dish said it is also seeking arbitration, which it says would prevent NBC from pulling its signal while negotiations were ongoing.

"Under the conditions imposed by the FCC and Department of Justice in approving the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger, NBC is forbidden from blacking out its networks if a pay-TV provider chooses, in its sole discretion, to exercise its right for binding arbitration,” Dish said in a statement. “Regulators implemented these conditions to prevent Comcast and NBC from harming consumers and competition.”

"In the event of arbitration, affected programming would remain available during that process, and for the foreseeable future," Dish continued.

NBC has been running ads telling Dish customers that they could lose access to NBC programming if a carriage deal isn’t reached by the contract deadline of March 20. The negotiations involve 10 NBC and 16 Telemundo owned and operated stations as well as cable networks including USA, Syfy, Bravo, CNBC and MSNBC. 

 “Should Dish proceed with arbitration we will of course participate in the process, and look forward to receiving the fair market value for our portfolio of network,” NBCUniversal said through a spokesperson.