With its retransmission consent agreement with Dish Network expected to expire next week, Sinclair Broadcast Group said Monday that it is “unlikely” that it will be able to reach a deal with the satellite TV giant.
Sinclair said that means 108 broadcast TV stations and the Tennis Channel will most likely go dark to about 3.5 million Dish Network subscribers across the country. In addition to the loss of a big chunk of its retrans revenue, the lack of a deal also could have repercussions for Sinclair's regional sports networks, housed under the Diamond Sports Group umbrella, which analysts have said were counting on a Dish deal to be reached.
“...it is unlikely that a carriage agreement with Dish Network will be reached before the August 16, 2021 expiration of their current agreement for Dish’s carriage of Sinclair’s broadcast stations and Tennis Channel,” Sinclair said in a press release. “As a result, all Sinclair broadcast TV stations (see list below) and Tennis Channel would no longer be carried by Dish Network.”
Sinclair stock took an early beating on Monday, falling as much as low as $29.39 each in morning trading (down 5.2% or $1.61 each). The stock closed at $30.08 (down 92 cents each or 3%) on Aug. 9. Dish shares were relatively stable, closing at $42.25 on Aug. 9, up 0.7%, or about 28 cents each. .
Sinclair said 97 of the stations in question are ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates, and are in markets ranging from Las Vegas; Washington, D.C.; and Minneapolis; to Boise, Idaho; and Butte, Montana. The deal also could serve a blow to Dish's satellite TV subscribers, which will lose access to NFL football programming, local news and sports. The NFL's regular season is slated to start in September, and the preseason begins on Aug. 12 on the NFL Network. The first broadcast preseason game is slated for CBS on Aug. 29.
"We have tried unsuccessfully to reach fair and customary terms with Dish Network for the renegotiation of our retransmission consent," Sinclair general counsel David Gibber said in a press release. "Given the status of these negotiations, we feel it is important to alert Dish Network subscribers to the real risk that some of their favorite stations will no longer be available through Dish Network including their access to live, local news, popular syndicated programming, sports programming including college and NFL football, and the network programming of our ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and CW affiliates in those markets. Dish subscribers are also at risk of losing Tennis Channel. With this loss, tennis fans will not be able to see wall-to-wall coverage of the Western & Southern Open from Cincinnati, Ohio in the run-up to the last Grand Slam of the year, the US Open."
Analysts had hoped that carriage of the RSNs, which have been dark to Dish customers since 2019, would be included in the retrans talks. However, with the apparent collapse of those negotiations, it is unlikely that the RSNs would return to the satellite carrier anytime soon.
In an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in June, Sinclair apparently baked in Dish carriage of the RSNs into its revenue estimates for Diamond Sports. Some analysts have said a Dish deal cold represent as much as $400 million in revenue for those channels.
Dish is no stranger to carriage disagreements -- Sinclair estimated that the satellite TV company has dropped about 230 channels over the years. But some had hoped that with the recent return of HBO to the Dish lineup -- after a three-year hiatus -- that there was a chance that the two may have been able to squeeze out a compromise.
"We apologize to our viewers for the inconvenience this may cause although our programming will continue to be available either through other program providers or via over-the-air antenna reception," Gibber continued in the press release. "We encourage subscribers in these markets to contact Dish Network and let them know that it is important to them that DISH Network carry these stations and that they should switch to another TV provider if they care about their news, local and national sports, and top tier entertainment programming."
Dish officials did not immediately return a request for comment. The company, which released its Q2 financial results this morning, is scheduled to conduct a conference call with analysts at noon today (Aug. 9). It is expected that the Sinclair negotiations will be one of the topics discussed.
Here are the stations that will be affected if a deal cannot be reached:
Abilene-Sweetwater, TX: KTXS (ABC)
Albany - Schenectady - Troy, NY: WRGB (CBS)
Albany, GA: WFXL (FOX)
Amarillo, TX: KVII (ABC), KVII-2 (CW)
Austin, TX: KEYE (CBS)
Bakersfield, CA: KBAK (CBS), KBFX (FOX)
Baltimore, MD: WBFF (FOX), WBFF-2 (MyTV)
Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: KFDM (CBS), KFDM-3 (FOX), KFDM-3 VIE (FOX), KFDM-2 (CW)
Birmingham (Anniston and Tuscaloosa), AL: WBMA (ABC), WTTO (CW), WABM (MyTV)
Boise, ID: KBOI (CBS), KYUU (CW Plus)
Buffalo, NY: WUTV (FOX), WNYO (MyTV)
Butte-Bozeman, MT: KTVM (NBC)
Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City & Dubuque, IA: KGAN (CBS), KGAN-2 (FOX)
Champaign & Springfield-Decatur, IL: WICD (ABC)
Charleston, SC: WCIV-2 (ABC), WCIV (MyTV)
Charleston-Huntington, WV: WCHS (ABC), WCHS-2 (FOX)
Chattanooga, TN: WTVC (ABC), WTVC-2 (FOX)
Chico-Redding, CA: KRCR (ABC), KRVU (MyTV)
Cincinnati, OH: WKRC (CBS)
Columbia, SC: WACH (FOX)
Columbia-Jefferson City, MO: KRCG (CBS)
Columbus, OH: WSYX (ABC), WSYX-3 (FOX)
Corpus Christi, TX: KSCC (FOX), KTOV (MyTV)
Dayton, OH: WKEF (ABC), WKEF-2 (FOX)
Des Moines-Ames, IA: KDSM (FOX)
El Paso (Las Cruces), TX-NM: KFOX (FOX), KDBC (CBS)
Eugene, OR: KVAL (CBS)
Eureka, CA: KAEF (ABC), KECA (CW)
Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, MI: WSMH (FOX)
Fresno-Visalia, CA: KMPH (FOX), KFRE (CW)
Gainesville, FL: WGFL (CBS), WGFL-2 (MyTV)
Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, MI: WWMT (CBS), WWMT-2 (CW)
Green Bay-Appleton, WI: WLUK (FOX), WCWF (CW)
Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, NC: WXLV (ABC), WMYV (MyTV)
Greenville-New Bern-Washington, NC: WCTI (ABC)
Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville-Anderson, SC-NC: WLOS (ABC)
Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, PA: WHP (CBS), WHP-3 (CW)
Johnstown-Altoona-State College, PA: WJAC (NBC)
Las Vegas, NV: KSNV (NBC), KVCW (CW), KVCW-2 (MyTV)
Lexington, KY: WDKY (FOX)
Lincoln & Hastings-Kearny, NE: KHGI (ABC), KFXL (FOX)
Little Rock-Pine Bluff, AR: KATV (ABC)
Macon, GA: WGXA (FOX), WGXA-2 (ABC)
Madison, WI: WMSN (FOX)
Medford-Klamath Falls, OR: KTVL (CBS), KTVL-2 (CW Plus)
Milwaukee, WI: WVTV (CW), WVTV-2 (MyTV)
Minneapolis, MN: WUCW (CW)
Missoula, MT: KECI (NBC)
Mobile-Pensacola (Ft. Walton Beach), AL-FL: WEAR (ABC), WFGX (MyTV/ThisTV)
Myrtle Beach-Florence, SC: WPDE (ABC)
Nashville, TN: WZTV (FOX), WUXP (MyTV)
Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, VA: WTVZ (MyTV)
Oklahoma City, OK: KOKH (FOX), KOCB (CW)
Omaha, NE: KPTM (FOX)
Ottumwa-Kirksville, IA-MO: KTVO (ABC), KTVO-2 (CBS)
Paducah-Cape Girardeau-Harrisburg, KY-MO-IL: KBSI (FOX), WDKA (MyTV)
Pittsburgh, PA: WPGH (FOX), WPNT (MyTV)
Portland-Auburn, ME: WGME (CBS)
Portland, OR: KATU (ABC)
Providence-New Bedford, RI-MA: WJAR (NBC)
Quincy-Hannibal-Keokuk, IL-MO-IA: KHQA (CBS), KHQA-2 (ABC)
Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville), NC: WLFL (CW), WRDC (MyTV)
Reno, NV: KRXI (FOX)
Richmond-Petersburg, VA: WRLH (FOX)
Roanoke-Lynchburg, VA: WSET (ABC)
Rochester, NY: WUHF (FOX)
Salt Lake City, UT: KUTV (CBS), KMYU (MyTV)
San Angelo, TX: KTXE (ABC)
San Antonio, TX: KABB (FOX), WOAI (NBC)
Savannah, GA: WTGS (FOX)
Seattle-Tacoma, WA: KOMO (ABC)
Sioux City, IA: KPTH (FOX), KPTH-3 (CBS), KPTH-3 VIE (CBS)
South Bend-Elkhart, IN: WSBT (CBS), WSBT-2 (FOX)
Spokane, WA: KLEW (CBS)
St. Louis, MO: KDNL (ABC)
Syracuse, NY: WSTM (NBC), WSTQ (CW)
Tallahassee-Thomasville, FL-GA: WTWC (NBC), WTWC-2 (FOX)
Toledo, OH: WNWO (NBC)
Traverse City-Cadillac, MI: WPBN (NBC)
Tri-Cities, TN-VA: WCYB (NBC), WCYB-2 (CW)
Tulsa, OK: KTUL (ABC)
Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD): WJLA (ABC)
West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, FL: WPEC (CBS), WTVX (CW)
Wheeling-Steubenville, WV-OH: WTOV (NBC), WTOV-2 (FOX)
Wichita-Hutchinson Plus, KS: KSAS (FOX)
Wilkes Barre-Scranton-Hazleton, PA: WOLF (FOX), WQMY (MyTV)
Yakima-Pasco-Richland-Kennewick, WA: KIMA (CBS), KIMA-2 (CW Plus)
Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.
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