06 November 2014

DISHing about the CNN Blackout

Dish Network's 14 million  satellite TV subscribers have been unable to see CNN or many other Turner Network channels since October 21st due to a carriage contract dispute.   The two big Turner Entertainment channels, TBS and TNT, are on a separate contract and were unaffected by the blackout.

Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen is a maverick who has pushed broadcast rights to the brink in the past to drive a better bargain. Ergen's quip about CNN and MK-370 highlights the tension between supplying costs and subscriber demands.  CNN has appeals to modest spectrum of news viewers yet Turn wanted a double digit increase in carriage costs.  Losing Dish Network cuts into 17% of their prospective market, which may also include the millions of monitors in waiting rooms and airport terminals

Dish Network the only television provider which has played hardball in contract terms.  DirecTV dropped with NBC/Universal Weather Channel in February over carriage costs and anticipating niche competition, and the Weather Channel tried fighting back to claim that dropping the channel was a public safety issue.

If it were for CNN, Cartoon Network and TCM alone, Dish Network might be tempted to permanently drop these Turner channels, but TBS and TNT will be up for renewal at year's end the NBA agreement might be the leverage to clinch the overall deals.

Cord cutting consumers might think that they avoided the messy media melee by ordering programming ala cart with broadband internet.  But a recent report indicates that bundled programming packages on cable or satellite might be less costly than the ala cart option.

Considering CNN's ratings, it is dubious if anyone would notice about the absence without articles. However on Election Night --the SuperBowl for political junkies--CNN managed to garner 1/3 of Fox News Channel's ratings.

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