Fox Blocks Millions of DISH Customers from Local Channels, Cable Networks
Fox is demanding a double-digit percentage rate increase for continued carriage of its local channels. Fox is also attempting to "force bundle" its local channels and unrelated cable networks to get more money and gain negotiating leverage.
At its May investor day, Fox executives promoted their plan to increase retransmission revenue by 62 percent, to
"Taken together, Fox's actions are profoundly anti-consumer," said
"To add insult to injury, Fox pulled its channels right as viewers head into the heart of the
Affected DISH customers can view
Consumer Choice and Forced Bundling at Issue
In addition to blacking out local stations, Fox has also blocked DISH customers' access to its cable networks FS1, FS2, Big 10 Network, Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Deportes. Fox is attempting to get more money by "force bundling" its unrelated cable networks and leveraging its local channels.
"Fox is using local viewers as leverage to get more money for unrelated channels," said LeCuyer. "We simply don't think it's fair to use local viewers to raise rates on expensive, unrelated sports programming."
DISH Offer of Extension, True Up Rejected
DISH and Fox had been making steady progress in their recent negotiations, and DISH was hopeful that they would come to a mutual agreement to renew carriage of its local stations. In that spirit, DISH offered a short-term contract extension to Fox that would include a retroactive true-up when new rates were agreed upon, and would preserve the ability of DISH customers to access the Fox stations while negotiations continued. The true-up would ensure that Fox was made whole at the new rates for the period of any contract extension.
"Fox had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by leaving its channels up," said LeCuyer. "Instead, Fox chose to harm its own viewers."
DISH Offers Free Antenna Installation, Alternative Viewing Options Available
As DISH works to reach an agreement, the company is offering digital over-the-air antennas at no cost to customers in the affected markets. Customers who use a digital antenna are able to access news, sports and popular network shows from Fox, and have the option to completely drop their local channels from their programming package to save
"A digital antenna is a great experience and solution for a growing number of customers," continued LeCuyer. "The channels integrate seamlessly into the Hopper interface. Plus, switching to antenna-delivered locals can unlock
Local station availability over the air is dependent on geographic location and topography. Consequently, some customer locations may not qualify for an antenna installation.
Another viewing alternative is offered by Locast, a free nonprofit service that provides local broadcast channels over the internet in select markets. Locast is available on connected DISH Hopper devices. Customers can visit locast.org to learn more.
Need for Retransmission Consent Reform
"Fox is using its mix of local and national channels against viewers, abusing outdated laws to try to force consumers to pay more. This greedy attempt to extort more money from our customers is one of the main reasons we – and our industry – are asking
Along with other pay-TV companies and public interest groups that form the
Blum continued: "We continue to urge the FCC and
Rising Retransmission Rates
Each year, the cost to carry local broadcast stations rises far beyond the rate of inflation, leading to blackouts across the country that affect millions of subscribers of various pay-TV companies. According to Kagan, a leading source on the media industry, broadcast fees burdening pay-TV consumers are expected to reach an unprecedented
DISH customers can visit DISHPromise.com for more information.
Since 1980, DISH has worked on behalf of consumers to deliver innovation and value. Through its subsidiaries, the company provides television entertainment and award-winning technology to millions of customers.
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