CBS Pulls Programming From Dish Network

NFL Blackout Rule - H 2014
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NFL Blackout Rule - H 2014

The move comes after multiple extensions of an expired agreement

CBS pulled its programming from Dish Network on Friday in 18 markets, including New York and Los Angeles, as the two failed to strike a long-term deal.

CBS on a couple of occasions extended a deadline and on Thursday said it would work through the night to get a deal done, but the effort apparently failed.

The now-expired deal had given Dish access to CBS-owned TV stations and CBS Sports Network, all of which went dark for Dish subscribers at 7 p.m. ET on Friday. Showtime, also owned by CBS, so far remains on Dish.

Dish said late Friday that the impasse to ongoing negotiations is related to the CBS Sports Network.

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"CBS has been negotiating a carriage agreement with Dish for six months and has already granted two extensions," CBS said late Friday. "During this time, Dish has dragged its feet at our many attempts to negotiate in good faith."

In its statement issued to the press on Friday, CBS also tried to shame Dish with its own record.

"Behavior like this is why Dish has a long history of depriving customers of the programming they have paid for," CBS said. "In the past year alone, Dish has dropped more than 121 local stations as well as several cable networks, including CNN, Cartoon Network and Comcast SportsNet New England, among others. Meanwhile, CBS has only been off the air one other time in its history."

The other time CBS refers to was when it could not come to terms with Time Warner Cable a year ago. Analysts concluded that CBS won that dispute after it yanked its programming and Time Warner Cable inked a new deal a few weeks later. Some have said CBS has the upper hand against Dish, as well, given that a lengthy dispute could interrupt live NFL games.

CBS CEO Les Moonves is under pressure to keep revenue growing even while advertising sales are a bit sluggish, so he needs to charge providers like Dish more money for rights to carry the network's very popular programming.

Dish chairman Charlie Ergen, on the other hand, contends that programming isn't worth as much when his customers can also get it over the Internet. Along those lines, CBS recently launched All Access, which gives users access to its shows for $5.99 a month. It's also working on an Internet offering for Showtime.

Dish, in the meantime, is working on its own Internet streaming service, and some observers speculate that a sticking point in its negotiations with CBS are digital rights to the network's shows.

"We are disappointed that CBS has chosen to black out their local channels, but remain optimistic that the channels will return quickly as both sides are continuing to work tonight to finalize an agreement," Dish said late Friday.

Dec. 5, 5:48 p.m. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Showtime went dark on Dish and only 14 CBS-owned stations were affected. THR regrets the error.