Dish, Disney Agree to Short-Term Extension Amid Continued Talks

UPDATED: The agreement covers ESPN, Disney Channel and ABC-owned TV stations.

Dish Network and the Walt Disney Co. have extended the deadline on their negotiations for a new retransmission consent agreement beyond the current Monday deadline.

However, in announcing the extension Monday, the two companies did not disclose how long the extension will run. The announcement characterized it as "short term."

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The contract negotiations involve ESPN; Disney Channel; ABC Family; ABC-owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno; and other Disney-owned networks.

There has been a lot of advance publicity about the negotiations as Dish is known to be a hard bargainer in an effort to keep the price it charges to consumer the lowest in the industry. Dish CEO Charlie Ergen also told stock market analysts in August that he is prepared to live without having ESPN, the top-rated sports network, if he can’t make a deal for a reasonable price to carry it.

The talks also have gotten attention because this is the first major negotiation since the Sept. 3 settlement of a highly public retransmission dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS.

That dispute not only made headlines but sparked renewed calls for Congress or the FCC to act to stop blackouts that result from such contract disputes. Dish, along with Time Warner Cable and other cable and satellite operators, also has called for Congress or the FCC to enact some kind of reform of the system that allows retransmission negotiations.

Under the law, a broadcast station has the option of demanding a cable operator in its coverage area carry their station. This is called the "must carry" option.

The broadcaster can also opt out of "must carry” and instead seek payments for the right to carry their signal, which leads to retransmission consent deals such as the one being discussed by Dish and Disney.