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By Courtney Alexander
Following a three week contract dispute and network blackout, Fox has returned to Dish Network, after the two parties came to a multi-year agreement. The blackout went into effect late on Saturday, Dec. 20, after Dish Network and Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. failed to come to an agreement on a new contract when the previous contract ended. 14 million Dish Network subscribers were left without Fox News Channel, cable TV’s number one watched news channel, and its sister station, Fox Business Network. In the Los Angeles area alone, one of Dish’s largest markets, 500,000 subscribers went without the Fox channels.
The terms of the contract have not been disclosed; however, sources close to the deal say that Dish has agreed to pay Fox $1.50 per subscriber per month, up from $1 per subscriber as per the previous contract.
“We thank the viewers of Fox News and Fox Business and Dish customers for their patience throughout this process,” said Tim Carry, executive vice president of distribution for Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and Warren Schlichting, Dish senior vice president of programming, in a joint statement.
The dispute was over contract fees. Each side blamed the other for the blackout.
Dish said that Fox was trying to include in the negotiations other channels that were not a part of the contract up for renewal. “It’s like we’re about to close on a house and the Realtor is trying to make us buy a new car as well,” said Warren Schlichting. “Fox blacked out two of its news channels, using them as leverage to triple rates on sports and entertainment channels that are not in this contract.”
Fox said that Dish shutdown broadcasting before an agreement was made “in an attempt to intimidate and sway our negotiations.”
Dish replaced Fox News with Blaze, the news channel owned by Glenn Beck, and replaced Fox Business Network with CNBC.
It would appear that Fox had the upper hand in the negotiations being the top rated cable TV news channel, and having a loyal customer base. According to Tim Carry, Dish Network lost an estimated 90,000 subscribers since the start of the battle. His estimate was based on the number of people who have contacted the www.keepfoxnews.com website, 888 numbers and other people who have directly contacted Dish Network. He also said that the site had garnered 22,000 emails and 7,000 phone calls requesting that Dish return Fox News to its lineup.
The Dish Network disagreement with Fox was only one of three within recent months. The other two disputes were with CBS Corp and Turner Broadcasting. In October, several Turner Broadcasting channels, including CNN and Cartoon Network were blacked out, returning on Nov. 21, after the two sides agreed to continue broadcasting for several months while an agreement is worked out. On Dec. 5, CBS blocked Dish from broadcasting the local channels owned by CBS Corp, before a deal was struck on Dec. 6.