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Business disputes over fees hurt Dish and some of its providers

| Jan 1, 2015 | Business Litigation |

Dish Network, the satellite television provider, continues to be involved in a series of disputes with cable and network television channels over the charges that Dish is willing to pay to continue showing the providers’ channels. The business disputes have led to Dish blacking out several providers at different times this year. The latest controversy involves Dish blacking out the Fox News Channel for the past two weeks, which has impacted subscribers nationally and in North Carolina.

The Dish Network Chairman has accused Fox of extortion in attempting to charge egregious fees for its programs. The Chairman said that this would simply be passed on to consumers, the inference being that Dish was standing up to protect the rights and pocket books of its customers. Many customers of Dish, however, have complained that Dish has breached its contract of service to them and have demanded refunds. Some social media reports indicate that Dish has indeed made some refunds to those customers who have complained.

The refunds average $5 to 15. However, the satellite company appears to be protected from serious claims of breach of contract because its terms of service provisions give it the right to change programming at any time without limitation. It also apparently has the right to charge early cancellation fees to those customers who switch providers. The lesson there is for the consumer to check out those all-important terms of service provisions prior to signing up for a service. 

Dish previously had similar business disputes with Turner Broadcasting, NBC Universal and CBS. The satellite company says that customers who switch providers are only encouraging the broadcast companies to continue to charge unreasonable prices. Fox News retorted that Dish incorporates blackout into its organizational model, and that Fox has never before been blocked out by a provider is its 18 years of service. Subscribers in North Carolina are awaiting resolution of Dish’s controversies, and it appears that most have not yet tried to switch providers. 

Source: macroinsider.com, “Fox News Dish Network Blackout: Customers Demand Refunds As Bitter Carriage Dispute Drags On“, Dec. 19, 2014

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