CBS Corp. sounded a pessimistic note on the eve of Thanksgiving, saying that the broadcast corporation and Dish Network "remain far apart on terms" in an increasingly contentious carriage fee dispute.
CBS' comments on Wednesday suggested there will be no quick resolution in the network's blackout for Dish subscribers in 18 cities — including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Sacramento. CBS-owned channels were removed from the Dish channel lineup late Monday when the satellite TV provider lost authorization to carry the signals of CBS stations.
Nearly 4 million Dish customers are affected by the blackout, including about 400,000 in the Los Angeles region. Those customers will not have easy access to CBS' broadcast of the Los Angeles Chargers-Dallas Cowboys game on Thursday, "The Big Bang Theory" or "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert."
Dish customers nationwide no longer receive three cable channels — CBS Sports, Smithsonian Channel and Pop.
"As it stands, Dish customers won't be watching CBS in the days and weeks ahead," CBS said in its statement. "There are, of course, alternative cable, satellite and telco providers that do carry CBS, and Dish subscribers would be wise to consider switching to one of those options."
Programming companies rarely encourage subscribers of a key business partner to switch to another provider during contract disputes, so CBS' suggestion indicates a combative stance in the stalemate that has angered scores of Dish customers.
"Dish, I am so over you it's unreal," one customer wrote on Dish's Facebook page. "I'm in the LA market and awhile back we did not have KTLA for several months. I just returned last night from a small getaway … and now we don't have KCBS or KCAL. As soon as this weekend is over, I'm switching back to cable."
The Englewood, Colo., satellite TV provider has offered its subscribers a free over-the-air antenna so they can continue to watch CBS.
The two companies have been in negotiations for a new contract since January, but little progress had been made. CBS has demanded a sizable increase in retransmission fees, as much as 40%, to carry the CBS stations, according to Dish executives.
CBS, based in New York, is striving to deliver on a promise to Wall Street that it would collect more than $2.5 billion annually in retransmission fees by 2020. The last time CBS stations were knocked off a pay-TV system was in 2014, when CBS and Dish failed to strike an accord.
But that blackout lasted less than 12 hours.
On Monday night, Dish asked for a deadline extension to keep the channels on the air while the talks continued, but CBS refused.