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Dish Network drops NFL Network and NFL RedZone in a dispute over subscriber fees

Dish Network drops NFL Network and NFL RedZone in a dispute over subscriber fees
Dish Network has dropped the NFL Network, home of "NFL Thursday Night Football" and "The Rich Eisen Show," above in 2013, and NFL RedZone. (Los Angeles Times)

Dish Network has dropped the NFL Network and NFL RedZone in a dispute over fees it pays to carry the channels.

The channels went dark at 4 p.m. Pacific time Thursday, according to a statement issued by the NFL, which owns and operates them.

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In a statement, Dish said: "Our contract with NFL Network has expired. We remain open to a fair offer that allows us to carry this content at an appropriate value to our customers."

The move marks the second blackout this week for the nearly 14 million customers of the satellite TV company, based in Englewood, Colo. On Sunday, Dish pulled Tribune Media's 42 TV stations across the country, including Los Angeles CW affiliate KTLA, and its cable network WGN America after the two sides failed to agree to a new carriage deal.

Dish has been aggressive in attempting to control programming costs that are often passed on to customers in their monthly bills.

The NFL Network provides live telecasts of the league's Thursday night games, which this season it will simulcast with CBS and NBC. It also carries studio programming such as "The Rich Eisen Show," which covers the league year-round.

NFL RedZone is the increasingly popular channel that switches to Sunday game telecasts throughout the league whenever a team has a scoring opportunity.

The NFL said the dispute with Dish marks the first time since the NFL Network was launched 13 years ago that a cable or satellite system has dropped it.

Earlier Thursday, Dish offered to have its dispute with Tribune settled through binding arbitration. The company also said it has fulfilled thousands of requests from its customers for free over-the-air antennas  that can receive Tribune's broadcast TV station signals during the blackout.

Tribune Media called Dish's proposal "a hollow offer" and has asked that the FCC chairman's office monitor negotiations between the two companies.

"Doing so will make abundantly clear to the FCC and the public that it is Tribune Media, not Dish, that is negotiating in good faith to obtain an agreement at current market rates," Tribune Media spokesperson Gary Weitman said.

Tribune Media is a separate corporate entity from Tribune Publishing, owner of the Los Angeles Times.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

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