Dozens of local news and sports stations across the country are blacked out for customers of satellite TV giant Dish Network after it failed to renegotiate programming fee agreements with the station owners.

Why it matters: Dish is known for being a shrewd negotiator when it comes to hashing out fees with station owners. But its recent slew of local blackouts is creating an enormous local news draught for many communities during the pandemic.

Data: Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence, and The American Television Alliance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Driving the news: Dish customers no longer have access to local E.W. Scripps TV stations — many of them local affiliates for major networks like ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox — in 42 markets across the country, according to a statement released Sunday.

  • It's the first time in Scripps' 73-year history that its stations have gone dark on customers due to a carriage agreement, the company says in the statement.
  • "Our impasse, after five months of discussions, is not about the rates DISH pays us but their inability to agree on other distribution terms," per the statement.

Dish, meanwhile, placed the blame on Scripps.

To be clear, Scripps chose to black out its own viewers," said Andy LeCuyer, Dish senior vice president of programming, in a statement. "We offered multiple extension options to keep the channels up while we continue to work toward reaching a deal during these unprecedented times, but they refused.”

Dozens of other local networks are also blacked out for Dish customers right now.

  • 14 Cox stations in 10 markets are currently blacked out for Dish subscribers across the country. Cox stations include news, but also sports. The network says consumers in several markets won't be able to watch upcoming baseball games on Fox due to the blackout.
  • 21 Sinclair regional sports networks are still blacked out for Dish customers, after the two companies failed to reach a distribution agreement last year.

Yes, but: Dish was able to strike a deal earlier this month with ViacomCBS, proving the telecom giant has managed to get some of its bigger carriage agreements over the finish line.

Between the lines: Negotiations between TV service providers and channel owners (both broadcast and cable) are often tense, with blackouts often approached or threatened, but typically avoided. Dish, more than others, has seemed OK with allowing such standoffs to result in full-on blackouts.

The big picture: As Axios has previously noted, these disputes, driven by a shrinking traditional TV market, are leading to more programming blackouts for consumers, and are forcing some smaller, niche cable channels out of business altogether.

Go deeper: 2019 sees record number of TV blackouts

Go deeper

Aug 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

2020 elections: TV ratings were down for both the RNC and DNC

Data: Nielsen; Note: Night one of the 2008 and 2012 conventions were pushed due to hurricanes; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Increasing partisanship, competing streaming options and the mostly virtual nature of this year's programming may help explain why TV ratings for both conventions were way down compared with 2016.

Why it matters: Ratings are not a proxy for popularity or voter enthusiasm, but they do provide a loose sense of which party and figures are capturing the attention of the country.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

Early voting eclipses 2016 total with 12 days until election

People stand in line to vote early in Fairfax, Virginia in September. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Americans have cast more than 47.1 million ballots in the 2020 presidential election, surpassing the total early-vote count for 2016 with 12 days left until Election Day, according to a Washington Post analysis of voting data.

Why it matters: The election is already underway, as many states have expanded early and mail-in voting options because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!