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Sinclair Signals Go Dark on Dish

Sinclair stations went dark on Dish Tuesday. Earlier in the day, Sinclair stations were warning viewers they could be off Dish Tuesday and that warning proved prophetic.

The two had agreed to a short-term contract extension on Aug. 16 to avert a blackout.

"We regret the inconvenience this will cause Dish Network subscribers who want to continue to watch the extremely popular programming that airs on these stations," Sinclair said on TV station websites, according to a check of multiple sites. "We wish to remind these subscribers that numerous other means exist for receiving our stations, including DirecTV and at least one cable television company, as well as for free over-the air." Sinclair said that if the stations did go off Dish — it suggested it was Dish's decision — "we do not know if or when Dish will resume carriage of these stations."

Dish Tweeted from its Dish Answers account: "Despite our offer to extend negotiations without impacting our loyal customers, Sinclair has chosen to reject the extension and initiate the largest local channel blackout in the history of television. We have agreed to Sinclair's rates and all terms for carriage of Sinclair's local channels, but the broadcaster has chosen to black out customers to gain negotiating leverage for an unrelated cable network it does not own. We believe agreeing to this unreasonable demand would have a long-term impact on our ability to provide the best content at the best value."

Dish said 129 Sinclair TV stations were off its satellite system in 79 markets in 36 states. It also said it planned to amend its FCC complaint "to include allegations stemming from Sinclair’s decision to blackout local channels to millions of innocent consumers..."

Dish filed a complaint last week arguing that Sinclair was refusing to negotiate.

In an FAQ on its affected station Web sites, Sinclair provided its side of the dispute. (

That included some sobering assessments, including this answer to how long the signals would be off Dish. "It is impossible to answer this question accurately," said Sinclair, "although it is certainly possible that Dish Network will never carry these stations in the future." And as for Dish's characterization of Sinclair pulling its signal, the broadcaster said: "We would not characterize this situations as the stations “pulling its signal” or Dish Network “refusing to carry” the stations. This is simply the case of a buyer and seller being unable to agree on price, something that occurs every day in both commercial and consumer transactions."