Officials with Dish Network, the second largest provider of U.S. satellite television, announced early on Friday that Fox Networks has blocked the company's access to 19 local sports channels and several other stations due to a dispute over transmission fees.
In a statement, Dish Network noted that the stalemate was created after News Corp (News - Alert), owner of Fox Networks, demanded a new contract with an "unprecedented rate increase of more than 50 percent." Fox has also declined Dish Networks' request to allow subscribers to continue to have access to the channels while negotiations resume.
"Our customers should not be held hostage in order to finance Fox's irresponsible acquisition of sports rights," said Dave Shull, senior vice president of programming for Dish Network.
In a dueling statement, Fox said “The proposal we’ve offered Dish is fair and in line with the tremendous value we provide. 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.”
While Fox and Dish Network continue to throw stones, it seems that more 14 million subscribers will be without a significant portion of their programming for the foreseeable future. As of midnight on Friday, Dish owners no longer have access to Fox's wide array of regional sports networks, FX, the National Geographic Channel and both MSG networks. However, authorities with the Dish Network said on Friday that it will begin providing subscribers with the NFL Network, the Big Ten Network and several other regional sports channels at no additional charge.
Unfortunately for consumers, these types of disputes are becoming increasingly common in this economy. Most pay-TV companies have been spent the better part of the last year fighting rate increases from content providers in order to remain competitive in this cutthroat market. Earlier this year, ABC and Cablevision Systems (News - Alert) got into a similar dispute that blacked out the Academy Awards for more than 10 minutes.
Beecher Tuttle is a Web Editor for TMCnet. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi