NEW YORK — The CBS network may — emphasis on the word may — go dark in millions of Dish Network homes on Thursday.
That’s when Dish’s contract to carry CBS expires, and the two sides have yet to sign a new one.
They’re trading barbs in the press, putting pressure on each other and causing some Dish customers to worry about losing access to the Tiffany Network.
A blackout would be a big deal because CBS is the single most popular network on American TV, and because it carries popular NFL games on Sunday afternoons through the rest of the year.
CBS and Dish may agree to short-term contract extensions while they haggle over the details, but for the time being, Thursday is the deadline.
On Tuesday morning CBS upped the pressure by accusing Dish of “deliberately dragging its feet for months.”
“Now, as the deadline nears, Dish appears willing to drop the most popular programming in its entire channel lineup because it won’t negotiate the same sort of deal that other cable, satellite and telco companies have struck with CBS,” the network’s statement said.
It went on to remind readers that Dish has been involved in numerous blackouts of programming over the years.
One of those blackouts involves CNN and its parent division of Time Warner, Turner Broadcasting. CNN and five other Turner channels are currently unavailable in Dish Network’s 12 million households due to a contract dispute between Dish and Turner.
Dish did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday about the status of its talks with CBS or Turner.
But last week, Dish said, “Only CBS can force a blackout of its channels. Dish is actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires and has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers.”