Policy

Aug. 1 Deadline for EchoStar, Sinclair

7/18/2005 7:47 AM Eastern

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. warned that it may have to pull its TV stations off EchoStar Communications Corp. Aug. 1 if a retransmission-consent deal extension isn’t worked out.

Sinclair and the direct-broadcast satellite provider had a two-month extension of their expired retransmission agreement, and both sides have been in discussions on that renewal. But the extension itself is now set to expire Aug. 1.

“We recently offered to extend the agreement for an additional month to allow us additional time to negotiate with EchoStar, but EchoStar has unfortunately refused to agree to such an extension,” Sinclair said on its Web site (www.sbgi.net).

“Although we remain willing to negotiate with EchoStar and hope to reach a long-term agreement, a risk exists that our television stations will no longer be carried on the Dish Network after Aug. 1,” the site added.

Sinclair vice president and general counsel Barry Faber said talks have been ongoing since the extension was granted.

“We extended [the old retransmission-consent agreement] once before, and we have been working very diligently getting a deal done,” he said Monday.

EchoStar declined to comment in too much detail about Sinclair, but spokesman Steve Caulk did say, “We are negotiating and we hope to reach a fair agreement by the end of this month that will allow us to continue broadcasting the Sinclair stations.”

Sinclair Monday started to run a crawl on its TV stations to warn viewers that the signals may soon be off Dish so that Dish subscribers can try to make other arrangements to receive the stations, according to Faber.

“We don’t want people to wake up Aug. 2 and go to watch something and it’s not there, or that to be the first time people see an announcement that it’s not there,” Faber added. “We want to give them a little notice.”

September