HBO Blackout Shows Dangers of Media Consolidation

Credit HBO Time Warner

Credit HBO Time Warner

HBO has disappeared from U.S. pay TV operator DISH Network's platform after the pair failed to agree on carriage terms, leading the operator to claim that the move is evidence of AT&T's power to harm competition in the wake of its merger with Time Warner. Dish blamed the HBO blackout on AT&T's takeover of HBO and other Time Warner properties.

Dish customers got a rude awakening on Friday when they woke up and realized they no longer have HBO.

"Plain and simple, the merger created for AT&T vast power over consumers", said Andy LeCuyer, DISH's senior VP of programming.

Of course, Dish is known for being willing to drop channels as a negotiation tactic.

As in most carriage disputes, it comes down to a he said/she said situation: DISH said that HBO's carriage fees are exorbitant, while HBO, home of Game of Thrones, Westworld, Big Little Lies, Veep, Silicon Valley, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and other hits, said that DISH is wanting to pay too little. AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner transformed the phone company into one of the world's largest entertainment firms, with huge clout in the marketplace. It alleged that AT&T's motive was to force subscribers to sign up to DirecTV. However, two months later, the Justice Department appealed the decision, and now AT&T is waiting to make its case to a higher court. "This is the exact anticompetitive behaviour that critics of the AT&T-Time Warner merger warned us about".

Kylie Jenner's Custom Barbie Costume Wins Halloween
The reality star posted multiple photos to her Instagram account Wednesday morning that showed her dressed as the iconic toy. Kendall Jenner is the only one who has actually walked the Victoria's Secret show.

"Customers with sufficient Internet service can substitute HBO Now, the direct-to-consumer streaming offering from HBO", Dish said.

DISH says it remains committed to finding a way to serve its customers. It harms the industry and consumers, " said Andy LeCuyer, Dish's senior vice president of programming. The fracas is the latest in a wave of programming blackouts as cable and satellite TV providers grapple with growing competition from streaming services. DISH has a history of taking carriage negotiation to the point where channels disappear from its platform temporarily, as occurred with CBS past year.

While HBO claims that Dish is "responding to our good faith attempts with unreasonable terms", Dish puts the blame squarely with HBO's new parent company.

Nonetheless, a person familiar with the HBO negotiations said the network offered Dish a deal extension, as well as "more favorable terms".

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.