Dish / Turner Dispute Likely Not Ending Anytime Soon
Yesterday, Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen made comments regarding the Turner networks (not including TBS and TNT) that have been removed from the satellite company. He said:
“When we take something down we’re prepared to leave it down forever. Things like CNN are not quite the product that they used to be. You can imagine: CNN down on election night would have been a disaster 15 or 20 years ago. Now there are plenty of other places for people to get news. In fact a lot of people get news not from TV but from their devices. So it’s not had a major impact on our business yet. I do expect that we would ultimately lose some subscribers without Turner programming. We would prefer to get a deal done. But we have a timeframe that we look at and there comes a point in time, certainly during this month, if we don’t have a deal [then] we just make a long-term decision to go a different direction.
“If we’re not going to be in a relationship with Turner then we would not have to raise our prices next year. And that would be slightly cash positive for us from a cash flow perspective. Yes, we listen to customers. But we would save a big, big, big check from a cash flow perspective. And for those folks who don’t care about news and cartoons, we have other news and cartoon shows. [Would subscribers] rather save the money? There’s a pretty good chance that they would. With regional sports, at some point someone is not going to carry regional sports because not everybody watches regional sports. I just think that there’s going to be more diversity, particularly when you can get cartoons from Netflix, or you can get news from the Internet, or you can get a TV show a week later, or you can binge view all the shows in a way that you can’t do easily on TV as you do it today. The world is changing. Some people are going to change with it. Some people are going to be fast followers. And some people are going to figure it out after somebody tells them what they should be doing.”
Read more of his comments at Deadline.com.
Now, Turner responded to those comments today:
TURNER BROADCASTING RESPONDS TO DISH COMMENTS
We are disappointed in the aggressive nature of the comments from Dish Network, particularly given the fact that Dish agreed to our rates and carriage proposals weeks ago. We were supportive of the Dish OTT effort and had found common ground on the major issues there. While there were clearly deal points to get done, they were not the type you would usually go dark over. So it is still unclear to us exactly what this dispute is about. We’ve been told our networks were taken down because we would not move an expiration date later in the year.
Other top 5 distributors have signed up for what Dish has walked away from. The value of the Turner news, entertainment, kids and young adult brands and content are reflected in the leadership positions they hold across the media landscape. That includes 5 of the top 30 cable networks. So we honestly have no idea what Dish was talking about yesterday.
We’ve had a long-term relationship with Dish that has been good for both of us. That’s one of the reasons we agreed to multiple extensions during this negotiation process and have worked diligently to address their issues. We stayed at the table even after Dish removed our networks from their service and we’re hopeful we can get a deal done in the near future.