Nov. 2 (UPI) — HBO channels went dark on satellite broadcaster Dish Network and its sister streaming service Sling TV Thursday in the premium network’s first ever blackout.
Dish Network issued a statement about the blackout, saying the network — which was recently acquired by AT&T — made “untenable demands designed specifically to harm customers,” particularly those in rural areas with limited Internet access.
“Customers with sufficient Internet service can substitute HBO Now, the direct-to-consumer streaming offering from HBO,” Dish said. “The majority of Dish’s HBO subscriber base is located in rural areas with limited broadband access and likely won’t be able to watch HBO or Cinemax without a satellite connection.”
AT&T — which owns competing satellite provider DirecTV — acquired HBO along with CNN, TBS and TNT after completing a $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner in June.
Andy LeCuyer, Dish’s senior vice president of programming, accused AT&T of attempting to shut off the recently acquired content from other distributors.
“This may be the first of many HBO blackouts for consumers across the country. AT&T no longer has incentive to come to an agreement on behalf of consumer choice; instead, it’s been given the power to grab more money or steal away customers,” he said.
An HBO spokesman issued a statement saying Dish made negotiations “extremely difficult” by responding to “good faith attempts with unreasonable terms,” Variety reported.
“Past behavior shows that removing services from their customers is becoming all too common a negotiating tactic for them,” the spokesman said. “We hope the situation with Dish changes soon but, in the meantime, our valued customers should take advantage of the other ways to access an HBO subscription so they can continue to enjoy our acclaimed programming.”