Mar 26, 2019

Univision and Dish strike deal after monthslong programming blackout

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

One of the ugliest TV distribution fights in recent history is finally coming to an end after months of harsh rhetoric, complaints and legal battles. DISH and Univision Communications Inc., announced Wednesday a long-term agreement for Dish satellite networks (DISH and DishLATINO) to carry Univision networks and stations.

Why it matters: Dish customers in areas across the United States that are heavily-populated with Hispanic-Americans were unable to access Univision, one of the largest Spanish-language broadcasters in the country, since June 2018.

What they're saying: “We want to thank our DISH customers for their patience as we worked to reach an agreement that is fair to all parties, especially our customers,” said Erik Carlson, DISH president and CEO “For more than 20 years, DISH has led our industry in serving the U.S. Hispanic community, and today’s announcement is reflective of our commitment to delivering quality content at the right value.”

  • “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with DISH that recognizes the value of our top-rated networks and stations,” said Univision CEO Vince Sadusky. “We look forward to once again providing DISH and DishLATINO customers with the news, sports, and entertainment content they love. Thank you to our loyal audience for your unwavering support.”

Details: Beginning today, Univision says that the following channels are once again available to DISH and DishLATINO customers, depending upon their programming package:

  • Univision, UniMás, Univision Deportes Network, Galavisión, Tlnovelas and FOROtv
  • The companies agreed to settle all pending litigation between the two companies.

Be smart: The agreement is particularly important, given how fragile the talks were for a while. Dish boss Charlie Ergen told analysts last August that the dispute between the two parties is "probably permanent."

Between the lines: The fight between the two companies has grown ugly over the past year.

  1. Latino advocacy groups mobilized aggressive public support campaigns on behalf of Univision, alleging that Dish was hurting their communities with the blackout fight.
  2. Univision filed a suit last summer with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York asserting that Dish still owes the broadcaster millions in retransmission fees and interest.
  3. Univision had previously written to the heads of the FCC and FTC alleging that Dish has been deceptively marketing Univision programming as part of Dish's pay-TV services to consumers.

The big picture: As Axios has previously noted, arguments like these happen all the time between pay-TV providers (cable and satellite companies) and TV networks (broadcast and cable companies). And in a tough economic environment for media, they're happening even more frequently than ever.

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