Cox Media Group Stations Go Dark on Dish

(Image credit: Dish Network)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. & ATLANTA—A total of 14 Cox Media Group stations in 10 markets have gone dark to Dish subscribers, and both sides are pointing fingers at the other.

Dish says that it is in the middle of litigation with Cox Media Group parent company Apollo Global Management over whether Dish’s carriage agreement for the Cox stations was prematurely terminated after the stations were acquired by Apollo. A temporary restraining order that prevented Apollo from interfering with Dish’s retransmission of these stations was issued in January by the Cook County (Illinois) Circuit Court. 

However, the case has now been transferred to a federal court, which lifted the restraining order. Cox Media Group called the decision an end to “the latest misguided efforts by Dish to avoid agreeing to reach a fair market carriage agreement” for the stations.

In a press release announcing the court ruling and subsequent black out, CMG offered a statement from the federal court that said CMG “cannot prevent Dish from retransmitting the stations. They go dark only if Dish so chooses,” and that any blackout is a result of the provider not willing to negotiate.

Here are the stations currently blacked out on Dish:

  • WSB-TV (ABC), Atlanta 
  • WFXT-TV (Fox), Boston 
  • WSOC-TV (ABC), Charlotte, N.C. 
  • WAXN-TV (IND), Charlotte, N.C. 
  • WHIO-TV (CBS), Dayton, Ohio 
  • WFOX-TV (Fox), Jacksonville, Fla. 
  • WFOX2-TV (MNT), Jacksonville, Fla. 
  • WHBQ-TV (Fox), Memphis, Tenn. 
  • WFTV-TV (ABC), Orlando, Fla. 
  • WRDQ-TV (IND), Orlando, Fla. 
  • WPXI-TV (NBC), Pittsburgh 
  • KIRO-TV (CBS), Seattle 
  • KOKI-TV (Fox), Tulsa, Okla. 
  • KMYT-TV (MNT), Tulsa, Okla. 

Dish claims that it has offered Apollo to keep its current arrangement, with higher rates, to keep the stations on the air, particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic, and continue negotiations, but they say Apollo has refused and demands a 40% increase to rates that were agreed upon last year.

CMG called Dish’s offers to keep the stations on air “feeble and disingenuous,” arguing that it preferred to use the courts in the dispute. It says that it wants a fair market deal for retransmission and meaningful negotiations to achieve a mutually beneficial agreement. CMG also said that Dish has unfairly targeted Apollo as the negotiations are related only to CMG.

Earlier this year, another 10 Cox stations were blacked out for Dish subscribers, but the two sides agreed to get the stations back on air because of COVID-19. None of those stations are the same as the ones being blacked out in this latest instance.

This story has been updated to include information provided from a Cox Media Group press release.