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DISH sues NBC over blackout threat

DISH Network is again embroiled in an increasingly bitter carriage dispute. This time it has taken the shape of a breach of contract argument with NBCUniversal.

NBC has created a dedicated website and on-screen captions saying that DISH Network viewers will lose their NBC TV and cable channels on March 20th unless the dispute is resolved.  The channels include NBC owned and operated stations as well as USA Network, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC and SyFy. The argument also includes 16 Telemundo stations.

NBC, in a statement, says: “Should DISH proceed with arbitration we will of course participate in the process, and look forward to receiving the fair market value for our portfolio of networks.”

DISH, in an 11-page filing with Illinois Federal Court, is arguing that that NBC-U has violated (“ignored”) the terms of an agreement reached in 2013. It is asking for arbitration.

Dish Network says: “Under the conditions imposed by the FCC and Department of Justice in approving the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger, NBC is forbidden from blacking out its networks if a pay-TV provider chooses, in its sole discretion, to exercise its right for binding arbitration. Regulators implemented these conditions to prevent Comcast and NBC from harming consumers and competition.”

DISH, in its filing, states that NBC-U had agreed not to engage “in these kinds of public communications” because such “prohibited” communications cause actual harm to Dish, and that subscribers cancel as a result of such messages.

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