Dish Loses Nexstar Owned Locals in ‘Largest Local Station Blackout in TV History’

Nexstar has pulled access to its 164 local channels in 120 markets across 42 states for Dish customers, after refusing a contract extension offered by Dish.

We first reported on the likely blackout last week when Dish shared that Nexstar was asking for over $1 billion in fees for their television channels. “This action by Nexstar would result in consumers being blacked out from the highest number of local broadcast stations in the nation’s TV history,” Dish shared in a statement. The following day, we learned that AT&T was in jeopardy of losing Tegna owned locals, which happened Wednesday morning.

“We made a fair offer to keep Nexstar stations available to our customers, but Nexstar rejected it,” said Brian Neylon, Group President, Dish TV on Wednesday night. “Earlier today, we offered to extend the current contract and hold subscribers harmless while negotiations continue — once at 11:53am MST and again at 3:11pm MST — but Nexstar never responded. We don’t understand why Nexstar insists on prioritizing greed above American viewers, many of whom rely on local programming for their news and entertainment, especially during this global pandemic.”

“We have been working tirelessly to come to a deal that is fair for DISH, Nexstar, and most importantly, our subscribers, but Nexstar is only interested in increasing its own wealth,” said Neylon. “We will not sit by and accept Nexstar’s unreasonable demands. We will continue fighting on behalf of our customers to come to a deal that is beneficial for all.”

In a statement, Dish notes that Nexstar is “forcing” Dish to carry WGN America which was acquired by Nexstar last year. Part of the large fee Nexstar is asking for would help the company to recoup the costs of that acquisition. YouTube TV announced this week that it would be adding WGN America to its lineup in January, likely in a deal to keep the Nexstar locals available to its streaming subscribers.

The channel loss will affect around 5.4 million Dish customers. Sling TV customers will not be affected, as Dish owned streaming service does not currently carry Nexstar locals.