Dish, Sinclair Avert TV Channel Blackout With Contract Extension

Dish Network Corp. and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. agreed on a short-term retransmission contract extension, easing a standoff between the companies that threatens customer access to local TV channels.

The companies will continue to negotiate a new agreement to replace the current accord, which was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. New York time on Saturday, Dish Network said in a statement Sunday. The broadcaster also asked the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to stay action on its complaint filed Saturday that Sinclair, based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, violated good faith negotiation requirements.

“We appreciate that we have mutually created time to try to find the right path to serve consumers,” Warren Schlichting, a senior vice president of programming at Dish, said in the statement. The deal preserves access for Dish customers to 153 local channels in 79 markets nationwide.

According to a Dish press release on Saturday, Sinclair had refused to negotiate to allow retransmission of its stations -- which include FOX, WB, ABC and other affiliates -- unless Dish allows Sinclair to negotiate for 32 stations 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.

A representative for Sinclair, based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, couldn’t be reached for immediate comment outside regular business hours.

Dish, based in Englewood, Colorado, had asked the FCC to block the blackout while the commission considered the complaint, and to require Sinclair to negotiate in good faith.

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