The Boston station WHDH-TV of Sunbeam Corp would lose its NBC affiliation by the end of the year, and the company may suffer another huge loss if they fail to reach a settlement with Dish Network Corp soon.
Sunbeam has been issuing warning to the Dish subscribers that they will lose access to WHDH and CW-affiliated WLVI-TV channels after July 29, if both the parties, Sunbeam Corp and Dish Network, fail to reach an agreement over the carriage fees.
WHDH refused to comment on this issue, apart from a statement from general manager Paul Magnes acknowledging, that they are trying for negotiations. However, both the channels, WHDH and WLVI, have advised Dish subscribers to watch the channels over air or by subscribing to any other cable TV alternatives.
On the other hand, Dish Network ensured their subscribers that they are trying to reach a settlement with Sunbeam Corp. “Only Sunbeam can force a blackout of its channels. We are unsure why Sunbeam decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point when there is still time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal,” a representative said.
Both the WHDH and WLVI channels went dark on the DirecTV packages on July 16, as Sunbeam Corp failed to negotiate a renewal of carriage fees with DirecTV. James Ratcliffe, a Buckingham Research Group analyst, said that Dish is the toughest negotiator in the industry and they may be willing to let a channel go dark. He also quoted, “They’re very economically driven.”
Ratcliffe said, “Clearly, if you’re a broadcaster, you have less negotiating leverage if you’re not affiliated with a national network or you’re affiliated with a network like the CW, because it’s a niche broadcast network. If they go dark now, then DISH customers wouldn’t be able to watch the Olympics on NBC unless they use an antenna. I would guess Sunbeam is trying to leverage that situation to drive a deal with DISH on better terms than if these contract negotiations were happening in January.”
However, Telsey Advisory Group analyst, Tom Eagan, mentio0ned that Dish Network is losing customers and are trying to reduce costs. Eagan believes that Dish has the advantage in this issue. “Even if you lose the signal, a subscriber is not going to change to a new provider typically in the summer. Secondly, DISH doesn’t care so much about losing subscribers. They are more about the margin. It’s willing to lose subscribers in order to not pay the higher fees,” Eagan said.