HBO Goes Dark For First Time In Its History Due to Standoff with Dish
For the first time in its 40-plus-year history, a blackout will keep HBO off the air of one of its biggest distributors.
The signal for the AT&T-owned channel went dark on satcaster Dish and its sister virtual MVPD service Sling TV as of midnight Thursday. Dish alone represents 2.5 million subscribers for HBO.
“Plain and simple, the merger created for AT&T immense power over consumers,” said Andy LeCuyer, DISH senior vice president of programming. “It seems AT&T is implementing a new strategy to shut off its recently acquired content from other distributors. This may be the first of many HBO blackouts for consumers across the country. AT&T no longer has incentive to come to an agreement on behalf of consumer choice; instead, it’s been given the power to grab more money or steal away customers.”
While channel blackouts are not a rare sight in the rapidly consolidating multichannel universe–Dish itself has tangled with CBS and Tribune in recent years–HBO has never gotten the ax before. But yanking channels has become an all-too common negotiation tactic as programmers and distributors look for leverage in affiliate agreements.
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