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Nexstar Warns of Dish Network Blackout as Contract Deadline Approaches

Nexstar, which owns the most local TV channels in the nation, warns Dish subscribers that service could be lost if a deal isn’t made by next Wednesday

A contract deadline between Dish Network and Nexstar Media Group is approaching this Wednesday, and Nexstar is warning that millions of subscribers could lose access to programming including NFL games and local news if a deal is not met.

Nexstar is the owner of cable network WGN America along with dozens of local TV networks and also is a major broadcasting partner for CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox. The company is negotiating with Dish over a new contract to replace the one signed in 2016.

“Since July, Nexstar has been negotiating tirelessly and in good faith in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable multi-year contract with Dish, offering Dish the same fair market rates it offered to other large distribution partners with whom it completed successful negotiations in 2019 and 2020,” Nexstar said in a news release today.

“Despite generating nearly $11 billion in revenue during the first nine months of this year and completing a billion-plus dollar acquisition of a wireless company, Dish has proposed rates that go significantly backwards and, in addition to risking the removal of Nexstar’s local broadcast stations, is threatening to also drop Nexstar’s cable network, WGN America, from its system.”

Dish has been known for tough negotiations with networks over carriage deals, dropping HBO and networks owned by Sinclair after stalled negotiations with those companies while other networks like Univision were reinstated after months of holdouts. Dish says that Nexstar is  “trying to strong-arm companies like Dish to pay outrageous rates and force unprecedented increases onto customers” and “trying to use its market power to demand unreasonable rate increases while intentionally using millions of Americans as pawns in their negotiations.”

The deadline for a new contract is 8 PM ET on Wednesday, Dec. 2.