Sinclair Standoff Threatens Channel Blackout, Dish Says

Dish Network Corp. on Saturday filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, stating that Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. is violating good faith negotiation requirements and that a standoff between the two companies threatens customer access to local TV channels.

“Sinclair is threatening the largest local channel blackout in retransmission consent history,” Dish Network said in a press release. Dish said its customers will lose access to 153 local channels in 79 markets if a blackout occurs.

According to the release, the broadcast station owner is refusing to negotiate with Dish to allow retransmission of Sinclair’s stations -- which include FOX, WB, ABC and other affiliates -- unless Dish allows Sinclair to negotiate for 32 stations that Sinclair doesn’t control, and which are in the same markets as Sinclair stations.

Dish and Sinclair had a dispute over retransmission fees in 2012 which was settled without a disruption in service.

The retransmission contract expires Saturday at 11:59 p.m. New York time, the release states. Sinclair, based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, has refused a contract extension so that the parties can “explore alternative paths toward an agreement,” according to Dish.

A Sinclair representative couldn’t be reached for immediate comment outside regular business hours.

Dish, based in Englewood, Colorado, is asking the FCC to block the blackout while the commission considers the complaint, and to require Sinclair to negotiate in good faith.

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