Dish drops Turner channels as contract renewal talks fail

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 21, 2014 8:46 AM

By Anya George Tharakan

(Reuters) - Dish Network has stopped carrying Turner Broadcasting's channels, including CNN, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, as the companies failed to renew their distribution deal.

Turner Broadcasting, a unit of Time Warner Inc, said on Tuesday it worked for months to come to an agreement with Dish and accused the satellite TV company of "operating in a disruptive manner". (http://bit.ly/1yeYF8e)

"We regret the service disruption to our customers, and remain committed to reaching an agreement that promptly returns this content to Dish's programming lineup," Warren Schlichting, Dish's senior vice president of programming, said in a statement.

Turner and led Dish, which is led by media mogul Charlie Ergen, did not disclose if higher carriage costs led to the breakdown of the talks.

Dish shares were up 2.5 percent at $60.17 midday on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.

"We are hopeful our counterparts will return to the negotiating table, and we'll get a deal completed," Turner said in a statement.

Analysts said dropping of channels by satellite and cable operators was routine.

"It is not like you are dropping ESPN or some of the other widely-watched channels ... (the Turner channels) are not game changing," ISI Group analyst Vijay Jayant told Reuters.

Dish has in the past blacked out channels of networks over price increases.

AMC Networks, home to popular shows such as "Breaking Bad," "The Walking Dead" and "Mad Men", was dropped from Dish's network in 2012 after its contract with the satellite TV company expired without a new agreement.

Dish, the second-largest satellite TV provider behind DirectTV, had dropped AMC for about three months because it was charging fees that were too high. (http://reut.rs/1tIqasF)

"I think these deals tend to get resolved. It's pretty customary to play hardball. Programming expenses have been a problem for a lot of companies," Macquarie Research analyst Amy Yong told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)