Univision Says It Wants to Talk as Dish Deadline Looms

Carrier claims impasse and readies for blackout
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After Dish claimed Univision had walked away from the bargaining table and that talks were at an impasse, Univision said it was ready to negotiate as the expiration of their carriage deal near its expiration.

“Univision has not left the table and is prepared to continue negotiating when DISH shows that it is serious about paying fair value for our services,” the Spanish-language broadcaster said in a statement. “Dish insists on paying Univision only a fraction of what it pays our English-language peers. Dish’s latest offer to UCI is an insult to our viewers, who depend on us for vital news and information that we provide like no other. Dish is just going through the motions and has provided hollow offers that hardly represent true negotiations.”

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Dish said it is getting ready for customers of its satellite service and its Sling streaming service to lose access to Univision’s channels. A blackout could occur as soon as Saturday night.

“Univision is calling for price hikes designed to impact the Latino market we have served for more than 20 years,” said Alfredo Rodríguez Diaz-Marta, VP of DishLatino and Sling Latino. “We are disappointed and saddened by Univision’s threats to block our customers from Univision news and entertainment content, especially during such challenging times.”

“Univision waited weeks to counter our previous proposal and has not responded to our latest proposal,” said Rodríguez Diaz-Marta.

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Dish claims Univision proposed a rate increase of about 75%. It also says that it is looking for a rate nearly double the $7.99 Univision id charging for its direct-to-consumer streaming service. The vast majority of Sling customers can access the Univision Now service. Many Dish and Sling customer can get Univision over the air, and Dish said it will provide free antennas to eligible customer who request one.

The two sides also disputed viewing trends for the Univision channels.

Dish pointed to declining ratings for Univision since 2012 and claimed Univision channels are among the least-watched channel on Sling Orange and Sling Blue.

“Univision is dealing with tremendous uncertainty as it faces significant business challenges, including its failure to secure rights for the World Cup,” said Rodríguez Diaz-Marta. “A massive price increase on our customers is not a path forward; we remain unwavering in our commitment to those we serve. We hope Univision will reconsider its demands and help us reach a swift, fair resolution.”

Univision noted that with the growth of streaming, traditional ratings were no longer a reliable way to measure a channel’s popularity.

Univision said it is the No. 3 most-watched channel in any language on the Dish Network and that Univision Deportes is the No. 2 most-watched sports network on Dish regardless of language. Univision is responsible for 60% of the Spanish-language viewership on DishLatino, it said, citing Nielsen.

“With this kind of performance across Dish, all we are asking for is a deal that represents our value, rather than one that offers a fraction of what English-language programmers are receiving,” Univision said. “It’s clear that DISH is using traditional ratings as a distraction to keep us from asking the real question: why aren’t they recognizing the value of UCI’s viewership, our performance, on their service? Furthermore, why does DISH feel Spanish-language programming isn’t worth paying for?”

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