Turner Networks Drop Dish as Content Companies Start Streaming

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A dispute between Time Warner Inc.’s (NYSE: TWX) Turner Networks and Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) has caused Turner to pull its channels from the satellite TV company. Dish believes the dispute will be settled soon. However, as carriers battle with content providers with greater frequency, the friction between the two parties may last longer than expected.

The satellite company’s Senior Vice President of Programming, Warren Schlichting, is betting the dispute will be short-lived:

DISH Network announced that Monday night Turner Networks removed Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN, CNN en Español, HLN, truTV and Turner Classic Movies from the DISH programming lineup. The two companies have been unable to negotiate the terms of a renewed distribution agreement, and Turner refused to extend the overall agreement.

“In the past year, DISH has successfully renewed agreements with many large content providers. As a result, we are confident that we have offered a deal to Turner that reflects an appropriate value for our customers.”

“DISH has had a productive relationship with Turner Networks for many years,” said Schlichting. “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.”

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Behind the scenes, almost certainly, Dish wants more money for carriage. Turner believes it can pressure Dish by pulling popular programming.

Dish was less than diplomatic in its communication with its customers, a sign it means to play hardball:

Our contract with Turner has expired and they have removed CNN, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, CNN en Español, Headline News, truTV, and Turner Classic Movies from DISH’s channel lineup.

Currently, Turner is making unreasonable financial demands, and they have refused to extend the overall agreement. We are working around the clock to reach a fair and reasonable agreement with Turner. We have had a productive relationship with them for many years and are confident we can reach an agreement to restore these channels soon.

In other words, customers should blame Turner as Dish is blameless.

The dispute is part of the reason that content companies have begun to offer their products directly over the Internet. A division of Time Warner — HBO — already has begun the process of streaming. HBO GO will be available on a slew of devices, which range from Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) Apple TV to the Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) PS3. Over time, Dish may find itself disintermediated.

Dish is negotiating in the shadow of new avenues for Turner subscribers to get content.

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