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Sinclair Broadcast Warns of Station Loss in Dish Network Dispute

Sinclair says its stations may no longer air on Dish Network, which claims the company is 'putting customers in the middle of its negotiations.

Sinclair Broadcast Group  (SBGI) - Get Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. Class A Report warned Monday that more than 100 of its TV stations will no longer air on Dish Network  (DISH) - Get DISH Network Corporation Class A Report after a carriage agreement between the companies expires on Aug. 16.

Sinclair said it tried unsuccessfully to reach "fair and customary terms," while Dish Network charged that Sinclair was making "outrageous demands."

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Shares of the Baltimore company at last check were off 1.5% to $30.55, while Dish Network, Englewood, Colo., was up nearly 1% to $42.37.

Sinclair said that as a result of the dispute, its broadcast TV stations and the Tennis Channel would no longer be carried by Dish Network. 

A total of 108 broadcast TV stations are expected to be dropped, including 97 ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates, the company said.

Sinclair said that Dish Network "has a demonstrated track record of dropping local and national programming that viewers value."

Dish has dropped more than 230 channels due to carriage disputes in the past few years, Sinclair said. The network has had carriage disruptions with the NFL Network, HBO, Capital Broadcasting and others 

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David Gibber, Sinclair’s general counsel, said in a statement that the company "tried unsuccessfully to reach fair and customary terms with Dish Network for the renegotiation of our retransmission consent." 

"We encourage subscribers in these markets to contact Dish Network and let them know that it is important to them that Dish Network carry these stations and that they should switch to another TV provider if they care about their news, local and national sports, and top tier entertainment programming," Gibber said.

Dish Network said in response that "the media conglomerate is trying to use its market power to demand an unreasonable fee increase, using millions of Americans as pawns in its negotiations."

Sinclair spent billions of dollars to acquire new channels, Dish Network said, and "now they're demanding a massive increase because they want Dish customers to foot the bill."

"Sinclair is demanding Dish pay nearly a billion dollars in fees for their television channels — a massive increase from what we pay for these same channels today despite declining viewership," Brian Neylon, group president for DISH TV, said in a statement. 

"Sinclair is making these outrageous demands, turning its back on its public interest obligation and putting customers in the middle of its negotiations."

Dish recently ended a longed impasse with AT&T  (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report, restoring HBO to its channel lineup. HBO shows had been off the Dish service since November 2018.

Separately, Dish on Monday beat Wall Street's second-quarter earnings expectations.