Dish Tells FCC It Will Seek Arbitration

Dish has notified NBCUniversal and the FCC that plans to seek arbitration in its carriage impasse with the programmer.

Dish is invoking a condition in the Comcast/NBCU deal.

"This notice triggers a mandatory 10-day ‘cooling off period’ during which DISH and NBCUniversal can continue negotiating and affected programming is required to remain available to DISH customers," said the satellite operator.

Dish said that after that period, if there is still no deal, it has up to five days to formally ask for arbitration. "In the event of arbitration, affected programming would remain available during that process, and for the foreseeable future," Dish said, adding: “We remain hopeful that we can reach a mutually beneficial agreement that benefits all parties, including our viewers.”

“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 networks," and NBCUniversal spokesperson said earlier in the week. "We are glad DISH recognizes the great value that NBCUniversal provides their subscribers and is committed to reaching a new distribution agreement," an NBS spokesperson said after Dish announced its intention to seek arbirtation. "During the FCC-mandated cooling-off period we will continue to negotiate in good faith in hope of a resolution.”

Dish filed a breach of contract suit against NBCU after the network launched an ad campaign March 14 saying as of March 20, Dish could be denying them access to "programming like The Voice, Blindspot, The Blacklist, the Chicago franchise, NHL on NBC, TODAY, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, WWE, Colony, The Magicians, Vanderpump Rules, The Real Housewives, election coverage on NBC, Telemundo, MSNBC and CNBC, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Squawk Box, Mad Money, and local news, sports, election coverage and more."

Negotiations, and the rhetoric has heated up over the past two weeks. A source said NBC was surprised that the negotiations had not borne fruit given the popularity of NBC on Dish, though ultimately the sticking point is the price Dish is willing to pay for that programming, or alternately the price NBC is willing to accept.

Stations affected are the 10 NBC and 16 Telemundo O&O's. Cable nets that could no longer be available include USA, Syfy, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, and a couple of others.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.