Dish Network subscribers who were worried they would lose access to NBC or some of its cable channels this weekend can rest easy.
The satellite giant on Friday notified NBCUniversal and the Federal Communications Commission of its intent to request arbitration over the carriage dispute.
The notice puts in place a mandatory 10-day "cooling-off period" during which the two companies can continue negotiations, while also keeping NBCUniversal's programming available to Dish customers.
The move obviates the original Sunday deadline for reaching an agreement. Dish subscribers could have lost access to NBCUniversal-owned NBC and Telemundo affiliates in markets such as Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Chicago, as well as access to the media group's cable channels, including USA, Bravo, Syfy, MSNBC and CNBC.
Dish and NBC have been clashing over several issues, including retransmission fees that NBC collects when pay-TV providers retransmit its station signals.
Dish, in a statement, noted that if an agreement is not reached at the end of the cooling-off period, Dish will have up to five days to formally request arbitration. Should arbitration take place, affected programming would remain available during that process and "the foreseeable future."
“We remain hopeful that we can reach a mutually beneficial agreement that benefits all parties, including our viewers,” the statement said.
The carriage dispute has escalated throughout this week. NBCUniversal launched a public campaign Monday that alerted Dish customers of a possible blackout of NBCUniversal channels. Dish responded Tuesday by filing a lawsuit against NBCUniversal and warning that the company expected to file for arbitration.
"We are glad Dish recognizes the great value that NBCUniversal provides their subscribers and is committed to reaching a new distribution agreement," NBC said Friday in a statement following Dish's announcement. "During the FCC-mandated cooling-off period we will continue to negotiate in good faith in hope of a resolution."
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