Fox pulls channels off Dish Network

5:19 AM PST 10/01/2010 by Georg Szalai, AP

Negotiated past midnight for carriage agreement

NEW YORK -- Here we go again.

Just weeks after Walt Disney and Time Warner Cable reached a new network carriage agreement, satellite TV firm Dish Network and News Corp./Fox are embroiled in a carriage showdown.

After a midnight deadline expired without an agreement, Dish and its subscribers as of Friday lost ‪access to 19 regional sports networks, as well as cable networks FX and National Geographic Channel.

The Fox News Channel is covered by a separate agreement, which is not up yet, as is the Fox broadcast network. The latter's Dish deal expires at the end of the month.

"Fox is demanding a new contract with an unprecedented rate increase of more than 50%," Dish said early Friday. "Fox has flatly refused Dish."

"Dish Network is not going to allow Fox or any programmer to bully our customers into paying such an unconscionable price increase," said Dave Shull, senior vp of programming for Dish.

"Our customers should not be held hostage in order to finance Fox's irresponsible acquisition of sports rights. Consumers are already burdened enough in this challenging economy."

News Corp./Fox responded: "The proposal we've offered Dish is fair and in line with the tremendous value we provide."

Then it, too, went on the offensive. "We regret the inconvenience to our viewers, but Dish has asserted its subscribers do not value our channels and has made a decision to go forward without them."

It encouraged consumers to look for alternative distributors at its site www.getwhatipaidfor.com.

Carriage disputes have been intense this year, with Disney pulling its programming from Cablevision briefly.

Actually, Fox and Cablevision also are facing an Oct. 15 expiration of their current carriage agreement.

Dish said it will make various channels available to affected customers at no additional charge, including HD Net Movies, NBA TV, New England Sports Network, NFL Network, NHL Network, Big Ten Network, Comcast SportsNet California and other regional sports channels from Comcast and ESPN Classic.
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