UPDATE: TCM Goes Dark on DISH Network

dish_network_logoUPDATE 11/21/14 – A deal has been reached to (temporarily) end the blackout. Details here

Turner Classic Movies was dropped today by the nation’s third largest multichannel video programming distributor in a dispute over carriage fees, a move affecting more than 14 million viewers in the United States.

The Englewood, Colorado-based DISH Network removed TCM from their lineup in the early morning hours (after 2 a.m. ET), along with Turner Broadcasting networks CNN, CNN en Espanol, Headline News, TruTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and Boomerang. DISH’s deal for the affected channels expired in June, and the satcaster claims Turner refused to extend it. TNT and TBS are not affected by the blackout, though their separate contract with DISH expires in just a few weeks.

This is not the first Turner blackout in recent months on a major cable or satellite provider. A dispute over fees last October resulted in a 25-day blackout of Turner networks on Cable ONE, a Washington Post-owned MVPD serving 720,000 customers in 19 states.

As always in carriage fee disputes, the finger-pointing began almost immediately.

brand_stack“Turner has worked diligently for months to come to a fair agreement including multiple extensions and compromises, and it’s unfortunate that DISH is once again operating in a disruptive manner that takes away networks and programming from their customers,” Turner said in a statement. “We are hopeful our counterparts will return to the negotiating table, and we’ll get a deal completed.”

The Turner press release called the blackout “unilateral.”

Dish responded with their own statement, posted on the satcaster’s website:

“In the past year, Dish has successfully renewed agreements with many large content providers,” Dish SVP of programming Warren Schlichting said. “As a result, we are confident that we have offered a deal to Turner that reflects an appropriate value for our customers.”

Schlichting added that Dish remains “committed to reaching an agreement that promptly returns this content to DISH’s programming lineup.”

Both parties responded with websites voicing their talking points.

MelDISH’s site, Dish Stands For You, proclaims their commitment to “the best programming at a fair value” while suggesting that Turner is making “unreasonable financial demands.” DISH also claims that Turner pulled their programming from the satcaster. For TCM viewers, Dish kindly suggests “Other Dish Channels You My Like,” including Sundance, an advertiser supported movie channel from AMC that airs Law and Order and The Walking Dead reruns, as well as contemporary “classics” like CONSPIRACY THEORY, a 1997 thriller with Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts.

Turner’s rebuttal site, SaveMyShows.com, was down when I attempted to access it at 6 p.m. (ET) today, due to a “recent surge in traffic.” Ahem.

I had better luck with a second attempt at 6:50 p.m. TCM is featured prominently on the Shows You’re Missing page, with photos of CASABLANCA (1942), GONE WITH THE WIND (1939), NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) and SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952) pictured, along with The Essentials. Clicking on any of these icons opens a dialogue box where viewers can initiate a phone call to DISH “through the use of automated technology” – provided by Turner, of course.

There’s also an option to “find other providers” but, for some viewers, that’s not possible.

“I live on a 52-acre farm, and, when I moved out here, cable was not an option,” Ashley Phipps of Julian, North Carolina told me via Facebook message. “TCM is one of the few channels I watch – almost all day, every day. Without it, and with DISH’s high prices, I’m thinking of ending my service.”

Unfortunately for Phipps and other DISH subscribers, TCM’s streaming app will not provide an alternative while the linear TV channel is blacked out.

Watch TCM will not be available to DISH customers while the network is off the air,” a TCM spokesperson told me in an email message.

1459919_10152777930720396_4348487113126238704_nThe fight even extended to TCM’s Facebook page, which was emblazoned with a banner claiming, “DISH dropped your favorite channels” and suggesting viewers “Call DISH now and demand your shows back.” As always when viewers lose programs they love – and pay for – the comments were vitriolic, with lots of ALL CAPS, and suggestions that “Ted Turner” should “agree to Dish’s terms.” As most informed TCM viewers know, Turner has not owned the company that bears his name since he sold it to Time Warner in 1996.

Public fights like this that leave viewers without the programming they love are always risky, particularly in a fragmented media landscape that offers more choice than ever before.

“These recent wars between providers and broadcasters have got to stop,” Phipps told me. “If they don’t, I see no point in continuing (to pay for) any service. getTV airs lots of old movies, and it’s free.”

You can read my follow-up to this post here


About willmckinley

I'm a New York City-based writer, video producer, print journalist, radio/podcast host, and social media influencer. I've been a guest on Turner Classic Movies (interviewed by Robert Osborne), NPR, Sirius Satellite Radio, and the official TCM podcast. My byline has appeared in Slate.com and more than 100 times in the pages of NYC alt weeklies like The Villager and Gay City News. I'm also a social media copywriter for Sony's getTV and a contributor to four film-and-TV-related books: "Monster Serial," "Bride of Monster Serial," "Taste the Blood of Monster Serial," and "Remembering Jonathan Frid."
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60 Responses to UPDATE: TCM Goes Dark on DISH Network

  1. Sarah says:

    Thanks Will. Ugh.

  2. hilisie says:

    Double Ugh. And thank god I don’t have DISH. I still like those Rob Lowe commercials though.

  3. Pingback: Wednesday Reads: Damn you #DishNetwork, Bring Back #TCM | Sky Dancing

  4. I went to the press info and a movie was playing, but who knows how long this will last…I hope that Dish and Turner can come to some sort of agreememt because this is highly unsat!

  5. Hubby has been debating cutting cable and just getting Direct TV. I told him about your post and said we need to stay with cable. If only TCM could go to streaming, as Netflix and Amazon do, I could pick them up with our Roku box.

    • willmckinley says:

      Jenni I know A LOT of people who are waiting for TCM to offer the Watch TCM streaming platform as a standalone, subscription video on demand platform. When/if that happens a lot of the hardcore classic film fans will gleefully slice the cable cord like Norman Bates in the shower.

  6. paul a. streubel says:

    I want my tcm back!


  8. libby says:

    I want my TCM and AMC back or I will look for another provider .

  9. What will we do without the Communist News Network, the filthy Cartoon Channel,
    or the great old movies our great-grandparents loved?

  10. Ruthie says:

    We or I want TCM back! There is no T.V. without it. Work it out, guys. There are other channels that can be removed or eliminated, much to my delight! Too many shows have already taken up space and time that are not noteworthy. TCM has to work out its staff shortages and give back to those who live for and love this channel. Bigger negotiations have been settled in the planning of show viewing! To get to the point, I want TCM back! Why pay for the use of television if you have no choice to have your say in its ability to show the things you can enjoy while home from work, or bed ridden with illness? And our children need to know the actors that paved the way for today’s actors. And the elderly also can say that they remember when. This channel runs in nursing homes and hospitals! I will find a new provider, and that Dish is no joke.

  11. My Info says:

    I subscribe to Dish because of TCM and I have dropped other services because of issues like this. I have a terminal illness, just please let me go with my memories.

    • willmckinley says:

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. If you have internet access I suggest the Warner Archive Collection streaming service. You can watch on your computer or iPad, and on your TV if you have a Roku player. Their programming is very similar to TCM. http://instant.warnerarchive.com/

    • Lets all hope this issue gets resolved soon! I too like TCM for the memories. Even if it’s a bad movie I like watching those old classic cars in normal everyday use. I know they have movies these days using restored cars but it is not the same.

  12. 70srichard says:

    The sneaky part is that the app doesn’t work either because you have to log in through your provider to get access, not simply through the channel.

  13. Pingback: TCM (Temporarily?) Replaced by FXM on DISH | cinematically insane

  14. Albert Morgan says:

    I love TCM and watch it every day.. Greed has taken over the entire world. Isn!t billions of dollars enough for all you people. Let the little man watch his programs. We are the ones that made you what you are.

  15. Jane Ellen says:

    This is crazy! I want to watch CNN news!!!

  16. toni says:

    I know I pay a hight price for dish, and I ,like others, want my tcm back!!! I am thinking about going to another provider that has tcm,if they do not put it back on!!

  17. Gina says:

    TCM is the only channel worthy to watch in today’s society. It is the ONLY channel I can leave on and not worry that my kids will walk by and see or hear something inappropriate! We pay ridiculous prices for DISH Network and to think TV was something that was free 30 years ago and now companies have found ways to not only capitalize on making money but are now fighting over BILLIONS! There are people who cannot afford TV anymore as well as those who are terminal with just a few memories left like “My Info Says” above who are being denied because of money???. I am disgusted that GREED will be one of their last memories. Have some moral and ethical decency and put TCM back on the air.

  18. Lorena Kreamer says:

    please bring back TCM I love their movies.!!!

  19. Ed Dolben says:

    Another day another lost dollar

  20. Josephine Cowan says:

    How Dish is going to compensate us for the loss of the Turner channels. Is a very bad loss. I pay my money every month for the package that Dish offer and now they are not available.

  21. Gail Cross says:

    I am paying for this channel in my package. I had so much trouble with dish in the last month. I cannot tell you what I went through with them. They are nothing but bullies. I loved tcm. That’s one of the reasons I got that package. I hope tcm will be restored. Or I’m changing to direct tv. 😦

  22. Clifton Mccray says:

    I want my show cartoon network back for children trutv stop black out we pay for channels we can’t see that not rigth.

  23. Kathleen says:

    I watch TCM every day. Sadly, I and other TCM fans were planning a Halloween party watching TCM’s scary movies TONIGHT. All of us are DISH customers and NONE of us are now able to view TCM’s great movies tonight. This has GOT to be solved…..YESTERDAY.

  24. Mike & Tina says:

    We have been faithful, loyal Dish Network subscribers paying top dollar for their largest packages and services for almost 19 years BUT, IF Dish cannot / will not bring “TCM” etc. back PRONTO we will be gone for good!

  25. All any of u care about is making more money for your selfish selves soon some of u will be dead. And u cannot take money with u. Wake up and think of other people. I do not know how God let’s these mean people live. Money money. Money…..I am sick of it

  26. I subscribe to the TCM programming guide which is now useless since the channel was dropped.
    Will be switching to another cable provider if TCM is not restored soon.

  27. Wallace Anderson says:

    Fed up,with Dish. Will cancel cabl period. Nothing but a bunch of bullies charging us to,watch 102 commercials per,hour.

  28. Jean says:

    My husband loves TCM. Every night at 7pm he turns it on and usually will watch what is on. This is making him say that we need to drop our plan down a notch or cancel it altogether and sign up with our local provider. Whoever reads this, please negotiate whatever is needed and bring it back. Thanks.

  29. dan neville says:

    They should give us something in return just like a couple years back when fx went off right before sons of anachary. Here we go again if your listening dish then give us something back for being loyal customers, its not are fault that you guys cant come up with a agreement. Fix your problems we pay WAY TO MUCH FOR TV AND IT IS YOUR JOBS TO KEEP ALL THE PROGRAMMING THAT WE PAY FOR YOU IDIOTS..GIVE US SOMETHING BACK FOR US

  30. John M. Duffy says:

    TCM was the main reason I’ve stayed with Dish network, along with Fox News. Guess I am a dinosaur or a throw back but I prefer the old, classic films from Britain and America, and TCM has been the only provider. The rest of the stuff on Dish is mostly garbage! I mean, what does wrestling have to do with science fiction? They need to settle this dispute.

  31. jokelly65 says:

    Welcome to Modern America, where the Customer no longer matters except to pay more money to increase the revenue stream. Between Dropping TCM and the ridiculous amount of commercials being inserted into shows (a two hour movie being shown in a three or four hour time slot so that they can show four to five minutes of show between eight minutes of commercial}, I am seriously considering doing away with all Sat and Cable.

    • Steve says:

      You realize any service you legally pay for shows on is going to have ads, right? Sure, there aren’t as many on Hulu (yet), but it’s also gone up to three commercials at a time from one when it launched. You still see ads on Youtube’s premium stuff. Netflix doesn’t have them, but it also doesn’t have the newest shows or seasons.

      Vaguely threatening to switch on a forum is pointless. I love my Chromecast though, and highly recommend it.

      • jokelly65 says:

        i don’t mind ads per se. But I am paying to watch shows not ads. when I used to watch shows that ran fifty minutes I didnt mind. But now many run thirty five to forty minutes with the rest being commercial I tend to stop caring if the Network survives.

        I particularly love a ninety minute movie that run on say FX for two and half hours, so the bulk of your viewing is commericals.

        Pointless as in influencing Dish, your correct How ever, It was my opinion and one I have since acted on.

        I will take a look at Chromecast, thanks for the suggestion.

  32. Lora Snyder says:

    Please please please bring back TCM because it is the only channel I watch. What a great inconvenience & aggravation. With all the terrible world events happening TCM is a positive outlet.

  33. carol cole says:

    I am very upset aways told all my friends how good dish was, now not so sure . There is no sub for tcm I pay a lot of money so I can have tcm in my package if not restored soon I will be looking elsewhere to get my favorite channel back

  34. Tom andes says:

    Drop the dish .bring Tcm back.will switch when this month payment is up

  35. Pingback: DISH Threatens to Blackout TCM + Turner Networks “Forever” | cinematically insane

  36. Steve says:

    I just want to point out something:
    The networks that had a dispute were all owned by CNN. FOX took over the channels that went dark. (TCM is streaming a Fox movie channel, for example)

    With the election over, I imagine the channels will be restored within a week.

  37. Thanks for all the info here! I went through this once before with one of my locals on Dish. I don’t actually know who was at fault but the local station had been bought out by a conglomerate and had made several big gaffs that would not have been done by the former owners. Dish was more than happy to point those errors out. When I contacted station management I got the distinct impression that they felt that not only should Dish be paying them but we viewers should be paying for the privilege to watch them. It took 3 months to get that mess straightened out and by then I was watching other channels instead. I now miss TCM . I got to where I was watching it even when the movie was not all that good which in not very often,

  38. Randy Shewmaker says:

    Really.. Give us a break. The money we pay each month for television is a racket. We pay monthly for a service that use to be free..I have started to get smarter and look at other companies to provide me the channels that have been taken away! Dish has dropped stations but have not dropped my monthly bill! What is being done about that!
    Bring back my Family Guy!!

  39. Angela Sgantas says:

    Well I have 9 grandchildren this effects along with me. Tcm is my favorite channel if they do not come to an agreement soon I will have no other choice but go another carrier. I fell we have waited long enough and they should have solved this issue long before there was to b disruption of the channels!!!!!!

  40. john says:

    .not only has dish quit tcm but you cant get netflix and also i cant get the fox news streaming app to pay on my tablet i will give them this month to fix their problem and then i’ll switch

  41. Michael Helm says:

    Let’s see. Subtract TCM, CNN and Cartoon Network and then send me a refund, Keep the ads off all films except for one ten minute intermission which we could also be used as a bathroom or snack break. I’d be curious what Dish has paid TCM for past contracts and what TCM is demanding for a renewal. What has Dish offered in response. Hard to make a judgement about who is responsible for our blank screen without those pertinent financial facts.
    MIchael Helm

  42. Don Richardson says:

    I am thinking about direct. Don

  43. Zane says:

    I love how dish says they stand for you I have been a dish customer for about 10 years now and in that time I have steadily watched my bill go up and up with every passing year dish claims they have about 40 million customers if everyone of those customers is paying an average of just $50 a month they are bringing in at that rate 2 billion a month and heaven forbid they might have to pay a little bit of extra money to keep their customers happy and watching their favorite programs it seems to me that all they stand for is making more money because I noticed that they didn’t reduce the price of my bill when I lost these channels wonder what would happen if all those customers just refused to pay their bill until these networks where restored

  44. Kate says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I want my TCM back. Dish has until the end of the month, or we are finished! Meanwhile, call Dish and demand a discount for missing these channels. Don’t take the chintzy first offer they toss at you; keep working them down.

  45. Charles says:

    I agree with a previous post about greed. These people on both ends are probably having to scrimp by on 6 and 7 digit incomes while the working stiffs and retired folks pay the price. Charile Ergen recently boasted that he was willing to leave those channels off, period! We now pay well over $110 and half or more of the channels are completely useless. Instead of simply repeating daytime programming for us ‘night folks’, they switch to half hour long commercials from Humana Healthcare or some vacuum cleaner I can’t live without! PISS on them all! Jerks on both sides. If it wasn’t for my wife, I’d have dumped it ALL a long time ago.

    • Mike & Tina says:

      Absolutely Charles, I could not agree with you more! 18+ years with Dish. My New Years resolution…If TCM, CNN ETC. are not back on by Jan 1st. 2015. I am dumping Dish even if my wife doesn’t like it!…

  46. Gina says:

    After 13 years of loyal service to Dish, I finally divorce them as a result of this fiasco. I’m upset with myself for not having looked elsewhere sooner. Now I have twice the programming for half the price and it wasn’t a promotion. Somehow I have a feeling more Baby Boomer/Gen X will do the same. Loyalty doesn’t seem to matter to big companies anymore, it’s all about money. Good luck with that tactic Dish. Best Wishes, Signed, Your X

  47. Terrytroll says:

    I been with ’em 13 years but as soon as I can get cat 5 wire pulled in the house I’m gone. Can get a better deal with local cable now. And have CNN and TCM. Bye dish.

  48. Toni Olson says:

    Thinking of changing to direct TV. This is really unfair. All of my favorites are off and off I go to direct TV. I’ve been with Dish for years now. I hate charter’s PR. As usual we are the ones getting screwed after paying our bills faithfully month after month.

  49. Cindy lynch says:

    I raised my package 2 months ago because I could watch boomarang and now its off along with a few other channel I also watch. I’m paying for all of these canceled channels and I think my bill should be lowered. This is a rip off and I think dish should fix it

  50. terry says:

    Its bad enough we pay outragious prices for dish tv, and are subjected to commercials galore. But now the greed of ALL. These companies has gotten rediculous…
    We should all just cancel all our contracts for the duration and let them keep their programs nobody can afford anymore until the prices come down , considering how many commercials we have to PAY to watch

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