Gray Television Monday said it is bracing for its stations to be blacked out by Dish Network starting Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET -- despite the satellite provider saying 'ample time remains' to stop that from happening.
“We are shocked and disappointed to learn that Dish Network has decided to impose yet another blackout on its customers by taking away our stations, which broadcast some of the most highly rated programming on any broadcast or cable channel in their markets,” said Kevin Latek, Gray’s chief legal and development officer.
The move means Dish subscribers around the country will lose access to 99 Gray program streams, according to the company. Gray stations in more than 50 markets rank No. 1 or No. 2, it said.
In a statement, Gray said it does not expect a Dish blackout will end soon.
“Dish has refused after many months to even begin negotiating carriage terms that are consistent with those that Dish has provided to other broadcasters and cable channels,” the group said. Recently, Gray offered Dish an extension that would have continued carriage beyond tomorrow’s deadline, but Dish refused to accept it, it said.
Dish, however, refuted Gray's claim.
“Contrary to Gray Television’s statement today, Dish has not ‘decided to stop carrying’ the broadcaster’s signals. Only Gray Television can force a blackout of its channels. With a deadline of January 17, ample time remains for parties to reach an agreement or extension, and Dish is actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires," Dish said in a statement to B&C.
“Dish has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers. Gray is simply trying to use consumers as pawns in an effort to gain leverage for their own economic benefit," the company said.