Reports: Dish Network, Other MVPDs Balking At Carriage Fees For Sports-Challenged ESPN

With most live sports events on hold for more than a month now due to social distancing for the pandemic, MVPDs are getting increasingly restive about paying networks retransmission fees heavily driven by sports broadcasting rights, according to a note to investors from Lightshed Partners analyst Richard Greenfield. As of Tuesday, Greenfield was reporting that he and two co-authors “believe” that “multiple MVPDs have informed Disney's ESPN that affiliate fees should not be paid starting in April 2020 because sports content is not being delivered as specified in their affiliation agreements. ”  Now, the New York Post is specifically reporting that, according to a source, Dish Network is trying to “wiggle out of the $80 million to $100 million fees it’s supposed to pay ESPN for April broadcasting rights” at the end of this month. advertisementadvertisementAnother source said Dish is invoking the extraordinary-events force majeure clause and telling ESPN that it would use the money instead to “lower the monthly bills of its roughly 12 million subscribers. ”Disney’s ESPN has “rebuffed” the request, but it is unclear whether it will be able to enforce the payment, per the source. Dish Network declined to comment to the Post, which doesn’t mention an outreach effort to ESPN or Disney.

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