Update: Dish CEO’s “Antagonistic” Comments Damage Negotiations with Turner

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 4.44.38 PMUpdated 11/6/14 

As the dispute between DISH Network and Turner Broadcasting enters its third week, relations between the two companies are starting to feel like a marriage gone sour.

On an earnings call with investors this morning, Turner CEO John Martin responded to DISH CEO Charlie Ergen’s comments about the satcaster’s blackout of eight Turner Broadcasting channels, calling his remarks “antagonistic and aggressive.”

The blackout of TCM, CNN, CNN en Espanol, HLN, TruTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and Boomerang began in the early morning hours of October 21, impacting more than 14 million DISH customers nationwide. Martin expressed confusion at the tone of the comments today, implying that the two sides had been far closer to an agreement than Ergen’s remarks suggested. 

Ergen“(W)hile there clearly were more deal points to get done, they were not of the type of nature that would result in networks going dark,” Variety quotes Martin as saying.

Martin’s conspicuous use of the past tense also extends to Dish’s announced “virtual cable” service, which will deliver a paired-down offering of channels to subscribers via the Internet for $20-$30 per month. The “over-the-top” (OTT) offering is designed for cord-cutters and so-called cord-nevers who “don’t live in the same place all the time,” such as college students and twenty-something Millennials. A deal had been place to include Turner networks on the service, but Martin said Turner’s involvement in that offering was now “unclear.”

“To us, it is unclear exactly what the dispute with Dish is,” the Hollywood Reporter quotes Martin as saying. “(W)e’re disappointed particularly, given the fact that Dish had previously agreed to our network’s rates and our carriage proposals weeks ago.”

unnamedSo if the blackout is not about Turner’s demand for higher subscription fees from DISH customers, as DISH has insisted from Day 1, then what complicated the negotiations, which collapsed on October 21?

One potential sticking point may be HBO’s standalone streaming service, set to launch in 2015, which was announced by Time Warner on October 15 – just days before the blackout began. Although details of the service have not yet been revealed, HBO CEO Richard Plepler said today that the network is looking to pull in as many as 5 million subscribers with the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) version of HBO, which may (or may not) resemble the HBO GO streaming platform currently offered to customers with authenticated pay TV subscriptions.

Targeting an available customer base of 10 million broadband-only customers in the US who don’t subscribe to cable TV, Turner’s corporate cousin HBO may find itself in direct competition with DISH’s planned internet-only offering.

Whatever the reasons, like in all disintegrating marriages, it’s the kids (or in this case the viewers) who are suffering the most in this fight.

Update 11/6/14 

Turner has updated its Save My Shows website, referencing the the “aggressive nature of the comments” from Ergen and the fact that DISH had agreed to increased rates for the blacked-out channels “weeks ago.” DISH’s consumer Dish Stands For You continues to insist “Turner is making unreasonable financial demands.”





About willmckinley

I'm a New York City-based writer, producer, and digital marketing consultant. I've been a guest on Turner Classic Movies (interviewed by Robert Osborne), NPR, Sirius Satellite Radio, and the official TCM podcast. I've written for Slate.com, Game Show Network, getTV, Sony Movies, and NYC weeklies like The Villager and Gay City News. I'm also 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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17 Responses to Update: Dish CEO’s “Antagonistic” Comments Damage Negotiations with Turner

  1. I just keep hoping they will work it out…where is a good palimony lawyer when you need one

  2. le0pard13 says:

    I’ve come to believe a great deal of the warring between media companies is the simple fact they’ve swallowed up most markets. Now, almost everything is in the hands of a powerful few. Their arrogance driving these confrontations to the detriment of subscribers, and they couldn’t care less. Unfortunately.

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

  4. James Rodgerton says:

    If TCM does not come back by December 1, 2014 I am out of here. Direct TV is looking good to me.

  5. Kelly says:

    Be honest I have aunt realy think about drop Dish for Verzion FIOS she see what my parents who sister is my mother with Gettv Movies tv she is jealous Antenna tv METV and other she so jealous

    She already calling SCREAM at Customer service throw f-bomb like self respecting Oakland/LA/Oakland Raider fan in other words she went LA Gangstra on Dish

  6. Ned DiMaggio says:

    I have NO Contract I will cancel my $126 a month bill Dec. 1st. I will ask my friends to join me. Dish closed at $62.00 they make to much anyway

  7. Kelly says:

    Be honest Ned my aunt give Dec 1 like you she getting tired of Dish network Customer service BS she really looking into Verzion FIOS she want bundle her computer line and tv so she may go basic on Verzion FIOS she want Gettv Movies tv Antenna THis TV and TCM so she really looking in that

    • Allie says:

      All you need is an inexpensive digital indoor antenna to get ThisTV, GetTV, MeTV and AntennaTV for free along with the other major networks.

  8. Patricia Boyle says:

    I need tcm soon to record some movies.

  9. Dennis says:

    Dish’s never ending ads and COST for everything displays how much their heads are in the sand with streaming gaining speed and quantity. The customer will rule in the end and the Idiot’s that run these companies like Dish will go the way of Enron and whatever other company that becomes to greedy at the EXPENSE of their clients. First reasonable chance I get I am leaving on a jet plane !

  10. Lora Snyder says:

    So – where can I go to get TCM? I’m ready to drop Dish like the dropped TCM. Lora.

  11. DirecTV is looking better all the time. We almost went with them but couldn’t decide for sure a couple of months ago. This has clinched it. DirecTV, here we come. I love my TCM just like everyone else!

  12. Kathleen Wisniewski says:

    I had quite a lengthy discussion via the computer with a Dish net employee and I get the impression that TCM won’t be back on Dish. I will be one of the many that leaves Dish for Direct tv on December 1 if it isn’t. I don’t feel that Dish is for their customers because they are obviously not listening to all of us who want it back. I refuse to pay for something I am not getting.

  13. Gail Fitzpatrick says:

    i just signed up with DirectTV. Being without CNN and TCM for almost a month was bad enough, but now Dish is getting in a fight with CBS, which also owns Showtime. Considering these are about the only channels I watch, $80/month was too much for what to me is nothing.

  14. Ann miller says:

    Dish’s CEO, Ergen is an idiot! His comment that dropping CNN was a
    “Nonevent” was was an idiot statement! CNN is far superior to any other news network. I watch CNN all the time. I was just about to cancel with Dish and return to AT&T Uverse. The threats to now cancel CBS is really stupid. I will immediately cancel Dish if this occurs!

  15. Mike Anderson says:

    I love TCM because it shows older movies that the acting is better than all the stupid special effects today. Is this guy who is the CEO an idiot? We do not even get ME tv. This sucks.

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