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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.

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

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