Sinclair, Dish Agree to Extension Avoiding Massive Blackout for Now

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

Sinclair Broadcast Group and Dish have agreed to a short-term extension of their carriage agreement hours before it was set to expire.

“We have agreed to a short-term extension with Dish to continue conversations. We will continue to update our viewers as this develops. Sinclair stands willing to continue to negotiate in good faith and to enter into a longer extension to allow for the continued carriage of our channels to Dish subscribers,” said David Gibber, senior VP and general counsel at Sinclair.

If Sinclair and Dish fail to reach a retransmission agreement, Dish subscribers will lose access to 108 broadcast stations via their satellite service. They will also lose the Tennis Channel, which is owned by Sinclair.

Dish has about 3.5 million subscribers in Sinclair markets.

The negotiations also may involve the Bally Sports regional sports networks owned by Sinclair. Dish stopped carrying the RSNs in 2019, before they were acquired by Sinclair from Disney , which got them when it bought 21st Century Fox and the new retransmission negotiations could give Sinclair an opportunity to restore their carriage.

 Last week, it appeared unlikely a deal would be reached.

During Dish Network’s second-quarter earnings call, chairman Charlie Ergen said he was disappointed that Sinclair had decided to negotiate in the press

The broadcaster made a statement that indicated that it was unlikely a deal could be reached.

“I’m disappointed that they put a press release out that they expect the networks to come down. I think we have until Aug. 16,” Ergen said on the conference call. “Many negotiations come down to the wire, so we’re still going to bargain in good faith.”

Ergen was asked if Sinclair was seeking to include carriage of the RSNs in the retransmission negotiations. He wouldn’t say what Sinclair was seeking, but he noted that because the RSN’s have been unavailable to Dish subscribers for so long, it’s unlikely that any of them want to watch--or pay--for them. 

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.