NBC regional SportsNet channels set to go dark on DISH
Michelle Clancy
| 24 November 2014
DISH Network is set to drop Comcast's SportsNet regional sports networks from its TV line-up, if a new carriage agreement isn't hammered out by 2 December.

Comcast has contracts with DISH for four RSNs run by NBC Sports Group: CSN Chicago, CSN Mid-Atlantic, CSNBay Area and CSN California. DISH is claiming that Comcast is demanding a nearly 20% price increase for more than 90% of DISH customers in each of the affected markets.

The impasse could result in blackouts, which will echo the existing black out of CSN New England on DISH. That RSN has been off-air since 1 August 2014 thanks to a carriage dispute, and the fact that it carries Boston Celtics' NBA games has not been enough leverage to break through the logjam.

"With the upcoming expiration of our agreements, we are growing increasingly concerned that DISH is not willing to work toward mutually acceptable terms for continuing carriage of NBC Sports Group's portfolio of Comcast SportsNet regional networks," said NBC Sports Regional Networks, in a statement. "This unwillingness to recognise the value that live sports delivers, and meet terms that have already been established with our other distribution partners, is putting DISH customers at risk of losing access to Comcast SportsNet's live game coverage and comprehensive sports news."

NBC Sports is planning to kick the leverage play into high gear: " We feel that the time has come to inform our networks' passionate viewers of teams from Chicago, Washington DC, Baltimore, San Francisco and Sacramento that they may soon be unable to watch their favourite NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS teams via DISH's service."

The satellite giant however said that "only a small fraction of those consumers actually watch the channels".

It added: "This heavy-handed tactic is troubling given Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable that would allow it to exercise even more power to leverage programming content in anti-competitive ways."

DISH has been no stranger to blackouts lately; in addition to the CSSN New England issue, it recently temporarily restored CNN, CNN en Español, HLN, Boomerang, truTV, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim and Turner Classic Movies to its 14 million national customers. A long-term deal has yet to be struck in that arena as well.