Dish Network and Nexstar Media Group, the No. 1 US owner of local TV stations, settled a transportation dispute that took 164 Nexstar stations and the WGN America cable network off the air for more than three weeks.
The deal was announced shortly after 1 am ET on Friday, Christmas Day. In a press release, Nexstar said: “We regret the inconvenience experienced by our viewers and look forward to providing them with a leading network and local programming.”
The financial terms of the multiannual agreement were not disclosed. The deal will restore signals from the Nexstar station in 120 markets and 42 states to Dish for the first time since it got dark on Dec. 2. It will also return WGN America to the satellite provider, and the network will also be launched on Dish delivered via the Internet package, Sling TV, in early 2021.
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The conflict affected stations serving about 5 million Dish subscribers, almost half of its overall customer base, at a time of year when the NFL and college football were playing high-profile games. Dish has been taking tough lines in many negotiations in recent years as the company moves from pay TV to wireless. HBO and Bally’s sports networks have longstanding disputes with Dish.
WGN America, known for some years for dramas with a prestigious script, recently made news, debuting a primetime night block called NewsNation In August.
Nexstar noted in the announcement of the agreement that it secured more than 250 distribution agreements with various partners. Along with the agreements concluded in 2019, the company has transportation set for about 90% of its footprint by 2022.
Nexstar, which became the main group of broadcasters just 20 years after starting with a single radio station, acquired Tribune Media in 2019 for $ 4.1 billion. This deal made her the owner of station number 1 and also gave her control of WGN America, which reaches over 75 million homes.