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Satellite giant Dish sues NBC, alleging breach of contract

Satellite giant Dish sues NBC, alleging breach of contract
Dish Network. (David Becker/Getty Images)

Satellite giant Dish Network is suing NBC for breach of contract.

After NBC launched a messaging campaign on Monday to alert Dish customers that its locked negotiations with the satellite company over a new carriage contract could result in a blackout of its programming this weekend, Dish struck back with a lawsuit.

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"NBC's public statements against Dish over the past 24 hours are in violation of the contract between the two companies," Dish said in a statement on Tuesday.

The 11-page lawsuit, which alleges NBC ignored its contractual obligation by involving the public with calls to action, was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Dish went on to note in the statement that NBC Universal was violating an agreement it made five years ago with the federal government that it would not use its clout to black out any of its stations if a pay-TV provider chooses to exercise its right to binding arbitration. Dish said it expects to file for arbitration, which would prevent NBC from blacking out Dish customers.

"In the event of arbitration, affected programming would remain available during that process, and for the foreseeable future," the Dish statement concluded. Such a move would remove NBC's leverage in negotiations.

NBC said in a statement: "Should Dish proceed with arbitration we will of course participate in the process, and look forward to receiving the fair market value for our portfolio of networks."

The Comcast Corp.-owned entertainment company launched a broad-based messaging campaign across TV, radio and the Internet to alert the public to a potential outage of NBC-owned TV stations and some NBC Universal cable channels on Dish.

A blackout of NBC-owned TV stations and some of its cable channels is on the horizon for millions of Dish Network subscribers on Sunday if the two companies fail to ink a new carriage contract.

The outage would mean that customers of Dish in the metropolitan Los Angeles region would no longer receive the two NBC-owned stations — KNBC-TV Channel 4 and Spanish-language network Telemundo — as part of their Dish programming packages as early as Sunday.

Los Angeles is Dish's largest market with nearly 500,000 subscribers. But the blackout would also affect millions of Dish customers around the country.

Without an agreement in place, Dish wouldn't be authorized to retransmit signals of 26 television stations owned by NBC — 10 NBC stations and 16 Telemundo stations — in such markets as New York City, Dallas, Chicago and Miami. The blackout would also affect NBC Universal's cable channels: USA Network, Bravo, Syfy, MSNBC and CNBC.

I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy

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