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Fox News Faces Dec. 20 Contract Deadline with Dish

Could Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network be the next programming services to go dark on Dish Network?

The contract for cable’s leading news network and its flanking business channel with Dish are set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 20.  

Fox News Channel apprised viewers of the possibility via ads that ran on Fox’s coverage of the NFL Sunday afternoon and on the broadcaster’s entertainment slate later that night. Fox owned-and-operated stations are also running the ad, which discusses the possibility of Dish customers losing top-flight FNC fare “any day now.” 

The commercial says Dish viewers could lose access to The O’Reilly Factor, The Kelly File (pictured), Hannity, On the Record with Greta Van Sustern, Fox and Friends and The Five. The message to the provider's subscribers continues by saying: “Don’t lose cable’s  No. 1 news channel,” imploring them to go “ or call 888-Fox-News and tell Dish not to block Fox News.” 

Check out the spot here.

“We are simply notifying our viewers about the possibility of not being able to access Fox News on their current satellite TV provider,” said FNC and FBN executive vice president of distribution Tim Carry in a statement.

Dish, which has been engaged in a number of carriage skirmishes with programmers in recent weeks, wrote on its Twitter customer service page that "Fox is making unreasonable financial demands" to continue carrying the two news channels. The No. 2 DBS provider, though, noted that "we have had a productive relationship with Fox for many years and are confident we can reach an agreement."

Officials at the nation’s third-largest distributor couldn’t be reached for further comment at presstime.

A Fox News Channel official reported that the spot that ran during NFL action prompted 20,000 callers to the 800 number, while 75,000 visited the website.

It has been a busy few weeks for the nation’s No. 2 DBS provider on the carriage front.  After a third extension, Dish reached a renewal with 60 network affiliated and local stations in 46 markets owned by Nexstar Broadcasting on Dec. 10.

Four days earlier, CBS restored its signals for owned-and-operated stations in 18 markets, following a 12-hour retransmission-consent disconnect that began shortly after 7 p.m. (ET) on Dec. 5. CBS, which had granted Dish three extensions, also inked a new pact for Showtime Networks and other cable properties.

NBC Sports Group on Dec. 2 gave Dish an extension ahead of contract expiration that night that has kept four Comcast SportsNet regionals – Chicago, Mid-Atlantic, California and Bay Area – available to its subscribers.

Last month, Turner Broadcasting System agreed to an extension, which sources say lasts into March, with Dish, an accord deal that  put eight of its pay TV networks back on the air for Dish subscribers, while averting a blackout of its flagship TNT and TBS networks.