Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Black viewers across Philadelphia will see the most major changes.

The fallout from the nearly 1,000-day carriage agreement dispute between Dish Network and Tegna is now affecting millions of American viewers.

It means that most of the 36 regional sports networks, including the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia 76ers, will be dropped from Dish’s digital service.

In response, the NFL says subscribers of the satellite TV service will get a free game for signing up again.


The longest carriage contract dispute of this kind between the American satellite TV provider Dish Network and the US regional television network owner Tegna is seen as a harbinger of the forthcoming negotiations over a new deal to renew that contract – known as “fibre-TV”.

For its part, the NFL confirmed on Friday it would be bringing its San Francisco 49ers game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints – but only to subscribers of Dish who sign up again.

Vikings fans are another group who might be losing access to local coverage. The team has taken its footballs off the field and – for now – is reportedly considering legal action.

Due to the ongoing row between the two companies, which is not believed to involve any cash changing hands, the Dish cable package owners will miss out on about 700 live sports and events – including the prestigious World Cup soccer tournament, the MotoGP Grand Prix, and the PGA Championship.

The long-running disagreement between Tegna and Dish is seen as a leading indicator of the current negotiations – which will cover more than 200 channels.

In a statement, Dish Network said: “We’re disappointed in this result and encourage Tegna to consider these customers’ best interests and restore their valued networks and stations.”

US media provider Tribune Media, however, called the decision a “horrifically bad deal” for its viewers in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Washington.

It added: “After nearly two years of low-ball offers and ultimately pulling all of its channels from Dish Network subscribers, Tegna chose to leave millions of its fans in shock and confused.”

The dispute began in July 2016 and has now left 46 million Dish customers in the US without access to the networks.

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Hertz Bernds, analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, says the blackout has left customers confused and enraged.

“I can not help thinking what we would have heard if a household with three children in Alaska was left without basic cable,” he says.

“These networks are critical for a healthy civic society.”

The dispute is not unprecedented. In 2014, CBS’ CBS-owned programming services were suspended for a month as the two companies renegotiated the pricing of broadcast programming for Dish satellite subscribers.

Tegna – owner of the local news stations in the areas that Dish Satellite is withdrawing – is not the only side of the fight to make a public noise.

Since the contract breakdown, more than 260,000 petitions, letters and comments calling for the return of their local TV programming and the blocking of further potential blackouts have been submitted to the television service providers Dish Network and DirecTV.

Tegna has also shared its frustration on social media, and on a webpage set up for those who want to tell their stories.

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Q: When is the next game being played that I’ll be able to watch?

A: This game will be available on DirecTV’s International channels, except in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and DC.

Ripped tape and eight-minute videos

From Friday, the most major changes will be felt in the Philadelphia area.

Who is affected?

On Friday night, the Raiders played the Giants in Philadelphia. It was one of 17 local sports networks that will stop being available for local viewing.

Dish Network, which owns 30 regional sports channels in the Philadelphia area, said it will work to upgrade customers’ set-top boxes to support the simulcasts so that they will get coverage of the Eagles and the 76ers.

While most sports fans are used to watching games via Sling TV or cable, viewers will also have to make due with video-on-demand or other means.

According to Bloomberg, the nature of local sports channels – with local broadcasters broadcasting teams in their own backyards – is usually a kind of betrayal, symbolised by the hated taping of the game itself, known as “ducking tape”.

The Dodgers were celebrating a World Series win in New York this week.

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