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Dish, Fox Resolve Fee Dispute, Avoiding Blackout

News Corp. and Dish Network Corp. resolved a fee dispute over Fox channels that threatened to black out World Series games and shows such as “Glee” for more than 3 million Dish customers.

The two companies said in a statement that they agreed on a distribution deal, without disclosing the terms. News Corp. had said it would pull its signals if the two parties failed to strike an agreement by an Oct. 31 deadline.

The accord allows the Englewood, Colorado-based satellite operator to keep broadcasting National Football League games, as well as programs such as “American Idol,” the most-watched U.S. TV series. A blackout would have affected Dish customers in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington.

“After prolonged negotiations to reach a fair deal, we’re pleased to enter into a long term agreement with Fox and to assure our customers that they can continue to enjoy these channels,” said Dave Shull, senior vice president of programming for Dish, in a statement. “We thank our customers, our retail and channel partners, and our employees for their support through these negotiations, which we believe resulted in a fair deal.”

Other Fox programming, including 19 local sports channels, FX and National Geographic, have also been restored to Dish customers as part of the agreement. Those channels went off the air on Oct. 1 after fee talks broke down between the two companies in a separate negotiation.

Cablevision’s Blackout

On Oct. 16, News Corp. blacked out Fox for Cablevision Systems Corp.’s customers, causing the longest-lasting blackout of a major broadcast network for a million or more people in at least a decade.

Broadcasters like Fox are trying to extract fees from pay-TV operators for over-the-air channels that were once free.

“I am pleased that Fox and Dish have kept in mind their responsibility to protect consumers from blackouts when they negotiate carriage terms,” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. “I urge Fox and Cablevision to complete their negotiations and end the impasse that has disrupted service to viewers.”

Dish, the second-largest U.S. satellite-television provider, rose 16 cents to $19.87 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have fallen 4.3 percent this year. News Corp., based in New York, fell 1 cent to $14.48 and has risen 5.8 percent in 2010.

News Corp. was in a similar dispute with Time Warner Cable Inc., the nation’s second-largest cable operator, late last year. News Corp. sought $1 a month per subscriber for its Fox stations, people familiar with the matter said at the time.

The two sides reached a deal after a deadline extension without any channels being pulled. Time Warner Cable, based in New York, agreed to a multiyear contract with the programmer that may climb to 75 cents a subscriber, according to Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG LLC in New York.

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