Fox and Dish Network Reach Carriage Agreement

Retransmission pact restores News Corp. programming to the satellite provider’s customers

The month-long dispute over programming fees between Dish Network and News Corp. is over.

The two companies announced Friday that they have reached a distribution and carriage agreement restoring FX, National Geographic Channel and Fox’s 19 regional sports networks to the satellite provider.

It also averts further programming blackouts. Dish’s contract to carry dozens of local Fox TV stations was set to expire at midnight on Sunday.

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Had a pact not been reached, signals would have been pulled for many of the provider's 14 million customers in New York, Los Angeles, Washington and other cities.

That would have left many viewers without the ability to watch several key World Series games — a situation that mirrors the current dispute between Fox and Cablevision. That breakdown in negotiations has left some 3 million Cablevision subscribers without access to Fox channels for nearly two weeks.

In hailing the agreement, Federal Communication Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski took an opportunity to push for a quick end to the Fox-Cablevision standoff.

“I am pleased that Fox and Dish have kept in mind their responsibility to protect consumers from blackouts when they negotiate carriage terms," Genachowski said in a statement. " I urge Fox and Cablevision to complete their negotiations and end the impasse that has disrupted service to viewers.”

Nasty agreements over rebroadcasting rights have become standard over the past year as networks become increasingly reliant on the money they make from retransmission fees. Fox, ABC, Time-Warner, and now Dish are just a handful of the big media and cable companies who have become embroiled in carriage feuds.

The dispute with Dish has lasted for nearly four weeks. The suite of channels went dark for Dish subscribers on Oct. 1, after the old contract expired with no new agreement in place.

In the short term it's good news for Dish customers. Over the long run, however, it will likely cost them. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it's safe to assume that Dish will end up paying more money for Fox's programming. Those costs usually get passed on to subscribers.

The two companies did say that the new pact was wide ranging and long term.

Translation: Dish customers get a couple of years reprieve before they get hit with another blackout threat.