Sinclair Broadcasting Blacks Out 129 DISH Stations

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UPDATE: Following the news that five million subscribers over 129 stations lost their Sinclair affiliate, Variety now reports that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has directed the agency’s Media Bureau to arrange an emergency meeting with Dish and Sinclair. The companies will have until midnight ET Wednesday to file their views on the dispute. Here is what he had to say about the situation…

“The public interest is the Commission’s responsibility. We will not stand idly by while millions of consumers in 79 markets across the country are being denied access to local programming. The Commission will always act within the scope of its authority if it emerges that improper conduct is preventing a commercial resolution of the dispute.”

ORIGINAL: While they had recently agreed to an extension to further negotiations, Sinclair stations are now off of DISH Network. DISH claims that this was a choice made by Sinclair. What this means is that 129 local channels in 79 markets across 36 states no longer have access to the network, which to wrestling fans means that those 129 channels are dark and not airing ROH TV. Here is a portion of the statement sent out by DISH, explaining their side of the story…

Despite reaching an agreement on rates and all other terms for the carriage of the Sinclair local stations, DISH said that this afternoon Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. chose to begin the largest local channel blackout in the history of television, blocking DISH customers’ access to 129 local channels in 79 markets across 36 states and the District of Columbia, and intentionally harming and exploiting millions of innocent consumers to gain negotiating leverage for carriage of an unrelated cable channel that it hopes to acquire but does not own today.

“We have agreed to rates and all terms to carry Sinclair’s local stations. We have agreed to rates and all terms to carry Sinclair’s local stations,” said Warren Schlichting, DISH senior vice president of programming. “But Sinclair is blacking out 129 local stations in an effort to negotiate a carriage agreement for an unrelated cable channel that it hopes to acquire, but does not own today.” Schlichting continued: “Sinclair rejected our extension offer and has chosen to use innocent consumers as pawns to gain leverage for the economic benefit of Sinclair, while causing substantial harm and disruption to the lives of consumers.”

ROH TV airs tonight on Destination America at 11PM ET.

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