Fox News Channel is rallying its loyal audience to help in its showdown with Dish Network Corp.
Dish, which has 14 million subscribers, dropped FNC and Fox Business Network late Saturday night in a dispute over how much the satellite TV service was willing to pay in a new pact to carry the channels.
Fox News has now turned up the heat in the battle with a website it created, www.keepfoxnews.com, and a toll-free number that directs Dish customers to other video providers.
“What my team is working on now is that everyone at Dish who wants Fox News and is not receiving it now, gets it quickly,” said Tim Carry, executive vice president of distribution for Fox News.
According to Carry, 7,000 calls to the toll-free line -- answered with a recorded message from the announcer heard daily on the channel -- were transferred to Dish “for disconnect” since 6 a.m. EST Sunday.
Customers have also sent 22,000 emails to Dish with the message “since they dumped us we’re going to dump them,” he added. Fox News frequently ranks among the top-rated cable channels, thanks in large part to the popularity of its prime-time hosts Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity. On the night of the Nov. 4 midterm elections, Fox News had a larger audience for its coverage than its cable news competition and the broadcast networks.
Carry did not offer details on what parent company 21st Century Fox is asking for in a new carriage deal, but described the proposal as being in line with other recently negotiated contracts.
“They are just not interested in agreeing to those terms,” he said of Dish. In a statement, Dish said Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network are being used as leverage to increase fees on other Fox entertainment and sports channels, which are not part of the same contract.
“Dish has had a productive relationship with Fox for many years,” said Warren Schlichting, Dish’s senior vice president of programming. “We regret the service disruption to our customers, and remain committed to reaching an agreement that promptly returns this content to Dish’s programming lineup.”
The standoff is the latest in what has become a series of battles between video service providers looking to keep subscriber fees down and content companies seeking to extract better terms to pay for higher programming costs and offset slowing ad revenue growth. Dish customers lost Time Warner’s CNN and Cartoon Network before an interim deal was reached. CBS Corp.’s channels were also briefly off Dish before the two sides nailed down a new contract.
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