Dish Network Blocks Free Local TV Channels in 18 Markets Just Ahead of NFL Playoffs

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Dish Network Blocks Free Local TV Channels in 18 Markets Just Ahead of NFL Playoffs

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – According to a press release from Mission Broadcasting, customers’ access to its local channels in 18 markets across 16 states including KSAN in San Angelo has been blocked out.

“Mission is using its own viewers as leverage as it demands higher monthly rates, interrupting programming as we head into the first weekend of NFL playoffs,” said Andy LeCuyer, DISH senior vice president of Programming. “DISH offered to extend the contract during ongoing negotiations, ensuring consumers would not be harmed in this process, but Mission refused.”

In exchange for using the public airwaves, broadcasters provide their channels for free, accessible with a digital over-the-air antenna; however, pay-TV companies are required to pay broadcasters to provide those same channels to their customers. If the two parties do not reach an agreement, the pay-TV provider must stop delivering those stations.

More information on this FCC-mandated process is available here:

“The channels could come back today if Mission would allow it, and we can restore the channels immediately if they give us the green light,” added LeCuyer. “On behalf of customers, we ask Mission to stop punishing its own viewers so we can focus on reaching a fair deal.”

Affected DISH customers can view NFL games using an over-the-air antenna or stream local and most primetime games for free on mobile phones and tablets asannounced by the NFL.

“As an immediate solution, we are encouraging fans to take advantage of streaming NFL games for free on a phone or tablet while we urge Mission to return these stations to our customers,” said LeCuyer.

Free Antenna Installation, Seamless Integration

As DISH works to reach an agreement, the company is offering digital over-the-air antennas at no cost to DISH customers in the affected markets. Customers who use a digital antenna are able to access news, sports and popular network shows, and have the option to completely drop their local channels from their programming package to save $12 on their monthly bill. DISH will install an antenna for qualifying customers in affected markets based on the reception available at their home.

“A digital antenna is a great experience and solution for a growing number of customers,” continued LeCuyer. “The channels integrate seamlessly into the Hopper interface. Plus, switching to antenna-delivered locals can unlock $144 savings annually. We want to give customers the choice to save money.”

Local station availability over the air is dependent on geographic location and topography. Consequently, some customer locations may not qualify for an antenna installation.

Price of Local Channels Soars

Each year, the cost to carry local broadcast stations rises far beyond the rate of inflation, leading to blackouts across the country that affect millions of subscribers of various pay-TV companies. According to Kagan, a leading source on the media industry, broadcast fees burdening pay-TV consumers are expected to reach an unprecedented $16.3 billion in 2024. These same rates, for channels available free over the air, were as low as $215 million in 2006. Between 2006 and 2019, retransmission consent fees have risen 5,359 percent, with an average annual increase of 37 percent across the pay-TV industry. The cost to deliver local channels is the fastest growing part of consumers’ monthly pay-TV bills.

Along with other pay-TV companies, independent programmers and public interest groups that form the American Television Alliance, DISH has called for the U.S. Congress to revamp the out-of-date laws that favor these high fees and unnecessary blackouts.

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